Published On: Sun, Jun 28th, 2020

PM Jacobs complaints about State Secretary Knops fall on deaf ears

Minister Jacobs & State Secretary Knops

PHILIPSBURG – Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs complaints about the (alleged) behavior of State Secretary Drs. Raymond Knops in a video conference on June 16 have fallen on deaf ears with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. He made clear that the matter falls under Knops’ responsibility. “That has not changed because of your letter and I have forwarded it to him for further handling.”

Jacobs’ complaints are about a video conference she held together with Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion with Knops on June 16. The topic of the meeting was the conditions for liquidity support. According to Jacobs, Knops treated her disrespectful and broke off the meeting.

Jacobs does not want to hold meetings with Knops anymore. Instead, she asked for meetings with Rutte or Minister of Home Affairs Kajsa Ollongren to discuss issues like liquidity support. But Rutte brushed her off and forwarded the letter to Knops for further handling.

Knops dismissed the information Jacobs and Irion brought to the table during the meeting “as irrelevant or considered lies in general,” Jacobs wrote to Rutte. She maintains that she communicated her position “honestly and transparently.”

Jacobs regrets “that Mr, Knops apparently assumes that St. Maarten is not open for close cooperation within the Kingdom. The recent cooperation and frequent communication in the fight against COVID-19 shows that the cooperation can function very effectively.”

The prime minister claims in her letter that Knops referred in the meeting to the Trust Fund as an example where bad cooperation from the side of St. Maarten has brought disappointing results. “An ultimate cooperation is however beneficial to St. Maarten so that it can help the population,” Jacobs wrote. “I do not agree with these statements and I want to propose this agenda point for further handling. The accusations by State Secretary Knops that St. Maarten is not prepared to cooperate with the steering committee and that this committee has had trouble communicating with my cabinet is absolutely incorrect.”

Jacobs announces in her letter that this will be further investigated. The following sentence in the letter is rather incomprehensible: “This especially because up to now only one request had been received and this last Friday for an informal meeting. That meeting still has to be scheduled.”

The way Jacobs and Irion were addressed during the meeting with Knops is also a bone of contention for Jacobs. “We did not appreciate it and we have made this clear during the meeting when it was our turn again.” Those remarks did not help: according to Jacobs the conversation got out of hand and Knops left the meeting while there were still agenda points left to be handled. “Emotions ran high and this is not desirable for any party.”

Another complaint Jacobs brought to Rutte’s attention is about the convocation for the meeting: she received the agenda points late and only after she had asked for them. This paragraph contains another incomprehensible sentence: “These agenda points were not accompanied by underlying documents never elucidation.” (In Dutch: “Deze agendapunten waren niet voorzien van onderliggende stukken nimmer toelichting.”)

Jacobs indicates at the end of her complaints that she is prepared to continue with the discussions “with an equal interlocutor who is open for discussion in a decent manner and who shows respect in case of differences of opinion.”

Jacobs suggests holding future discussions with Prime Minister Rutte or with the Minister of Home Affairs, Kajsa Ollongren. Considering Rutte’s reaction, it is unlikely that this will become a reality.

Knops Left The Zoom Chat - Cartoon

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Related article:
Opinion piece: “Pettifoggery
PM Jacobs demands respect of State Secretary Knops
PM Jacobs complaints about State Secretary Knops fall on deaf ears
Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs sends letter to Prime Minister Mark Rutte