PARAMARIBO, Suriname – Suriname maintains that the Tigri area, a huge, mineral rich landmass in the southwest section of the country, belongs to the Dutch Caribbean Community despite claims by Guyana dating back to the 1840s.
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Lackin told the National Assembly that Guyana has been “making moves on the Tigri area for 40 years.
“Tigri is Suriname territory, but as a developing country we have chosen for the path of diplomacy with as goal sustainable development for both our nations. We are convinced that a constructive solution is the best outcome,” he said.
Lackin said the dispute is a priority for President Desi Bouterse, and that Suriname and Guyana have established a committee that over the past three years has held four meetings about Tigri.
The foreign minister said President Bouterse and his Guyanese counterpart Donald Ramotar have also had discussions about the dispute and have given their foreign ministers instructions, which have been passed on to the border committee.
The minister said that the decision could also have led to war with Guyana over Tigri, “But wars cost money. We rather use those for public health and education,” he said, adding, “Fact is that Tigri is part of Suriname territory.”
Lackin’s insistence that Tigri belongs to Suriname comes a month after Guyana declined an invitation to take part in the International Mining, Energy and Petroleum Conference and Exhibition that is scheduled to take place in Paramaribo in June.
Guyana’s Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud said Guyana withdrew because a map that was being circulated depicted the New River Triangle in Suriname.
Suriname considers the area part of the Coeroenie area of District Sipaliwini, whereas the Guyana considers it part of its East Berbice-Corentyne region, which it calls the New River Triangle.
Since 1969, Tigri has been under Guyanese rule, leaving the conflict simmering between the two nations.