- French Ambassador to Suriname: Mr Michel Prom (since September 2013)
- Ambassador of Suriname to France: Mr Reggy Martiales Nelson (since June 2015)
France and Suriname share a border of 520km marked by the River Maroni. The civil war led to an influx of refugees from Suriname to French Guiana. These were essentially Maroons from the inner regions, thousands of whom remained in Guiana after the end of hostilities. Since the reopening of the border in December 1991, the traditional exchanges have recommenced. Suriname has shown a desire to strengthen its ties with France, as illustrated by the opening of an Embassy in Paris in 2011. France’s goal is to limit the cross-border clandestine economy and to regulate the considerable illegal immigration flow into Guiana, while fostering the development of trade and cultural and human exchanges.
A bilateral agreement on readmission of persons whose immigration status is irregular was signed on 30 November 2004 and still awaits ratification by Suriname.
This is also true of the cross-border police cooperation agreement signed on 29 June 2006 and ratified by France in 2008, but not by Suriname. On the ground, however, cooperation effectively functions encouragingly. Joint river and sea maritime patrols are implemented in under an intergovernmental agreement dating back to September 2003.
There is a border dispute concerning a triangular forest area of about 3,000 km²between the Marouini and Litani rivers, incorporated into the Guiana Amazonian Park which was created in 2007. The delimitation of the maritime border was long contentious too, but was the subject of fruitful negotiations in 2014-2015 which are expected to conclude soon.
The first – and so far, only – bilateral consultations were held in Paramaribo in November 2009. A “River Council” was established on this occasion, whereby representatives of administrations and local elected representatives meet annually to discuss issues of common importance.
Visits to Suriname
- 10-11 November 2004: Mr Xavier Darcos, Minister Delegate for Cooperation, Development and Francophonie.
- 23 November 2004: Mr Léon Bertrand, Minister Delegate for Tourism (and Mayor of Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni).
- 24 November 2009, for the first meeting of the Mixed Commission: Ms Chantal Berthelot, National Assembly Deputy of the second constituency of Guiana and Chair of the France-Suriname Friendship Group at the National Assembly; Mr Léon Bertrand, former Minister, Mayor of Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni and President of the local Community of Municipalities.
- 12 August 2010, for the swearing-in ceremony: Mr Rodolphe Alexandre, President of the Region of Guiana; Mr Alain Tien-Liong, President of the Departmental Council.
- 13-14 November 2012: Mr Simon Sutour, Chair of the European Affairs Committee of the Senate, and Mr Georges Parient, Deputy Chair.
Visits to France
- 30 November-1 December 2004, Paris: Ms Maria Levens, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Meetings with Mr Renaud Muselier, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and with Ms Brigitte Girardin, Minister for Overseas France.
- 29 June 2006, Guiana: Mr Chandrikapersad Santokhi, Minister of Justice and Police. Meeting with Mr Nicolas Sarkozy, Ministre d’État, Minister of the Interior and Town and Country Planning. Signing of a cross-border cooperation agreement.
- 6 November 2006, Paris: M Kermechend Raghoebarsing, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries. Meeting with Mr Dominique Bussereau, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.
- 24-27 October 2011, Paris: Mr Jim Hok, Minister of Natural Resources. Inauguration of the Embassy of Suriname in Paris.
France has a small economic presence in neighbouring Suriname. It is the country’s fourth-largest European supplier (0.9% market share) behind the Netherlands (15.6%), Germany (1.8%) and the United Kingdom (1.4%). French operators are present in the banana sector (supplier of in-vitro grown plants via CIRAD, and irrigation equipment, technical assistance, marketing and transport to Europe via the shipping company CMA CGM. The Chambers of Commerce of Suriname and Guiana meet annually.
Suriname was incorporated into the Priority Solidarity Zone in 1999. Cooperation with Suriname is implemented primarily via the Agence Française de Développement (AFD, French Development Agency) and the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM). In recent years, the AFD has granted two concessional loans: €25 million for the rehabilitation of a section of the road between Paramaribo and Albina, and €15 million for the construction of a hospital in Albina, the latter supplemented by a technical assistance aspect in the form of a grant worth €1.1 million).
Lastly, the French Embassy in Paramaribo manages a bilateral budget to support the Alliance française there. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Operational Programmes “Caribbean” and “Amazonia” enable the French Guiana Regional Council to involve Suriname in projects of common interest.
Bilateral military cooperation (training, joint exercises, logistical support) also supports cross-border security and capacity building to support the sovereignty of Suriname’s government. Jointly combatting illegal fishing is producing promising results, particularly since the creation of a coastguards corps in Suriname which carries out joint patrols with the French armed forces.
Updated: 10 January 2017
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