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Suriname Protests Dutch Minister’s ‘Failed State’ Remark

FILE - Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok attends a meeting with Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Cairo, Egypt, May 10, 2018. On Thursday, Suriname protested his remark that it was a "failed state."

Suriname issued a protest note to the Netherlands on Thursday after the Dutch foreign minister said the South American nation was a “failed state” because of its ethnic diversity.

Stef Blok, a member of the conservative VVD party of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, has faced a firestorm of criticism over comments he made July 10 in The Hague that became public this week.

“This coarse accusation against peace and stability in the Republic of Suriname can only be intended to portray Suriname and its population negatively,” Suriname’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry, which summoned Dutch envoy Jaap Frederiks to receive the protest, added that the Netherlands was “seeking to isolate the Surinamese nation, with the possible agenda being the realization of a recolonization.”

Suriname, a former Dutch colony that became independent in 1975, has a mix of ethnicities including people of Indonesian, African and Dutch ancestry, as well indigenous peoples.

Blok had told a gathering of Dutch employees of international organizations that “Suriname is a failed state and that is very much linked to its ethnic composition.”

Lawmakers from several Dutch political parties, including all members of the governing coalition, demanded an explanation for Blok’s remarks.

In a statement issued through his Twitter account, Blok said his language was too strong and he regretted the offense it caused.