Published On: Wed, Jan 6th, 2021

Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultation off to a harmonious start

PHILIPSBURG — On the first day of the virtual Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultation (IPKO), chaired by Aruba’s MP Ady Thijsen, representatives of Aruba and Curacao expressed their willingness for cooperation within the Kingdom.

St. Maarten’s MP Christophe Emmanuel made an attempt to create some controversy by asking Curacao’s MP Stephan Walroud about his blackmail-statement in a recent interview, but it fizzled after Walroud explained that the interview was with the Dutch action group Virus Insanity and its leader Willem Engel. The interviewer had taken his opinion out of context. Walroud never referred to cooperation with the Netherlands with the term blackmail.

Walroud noted that negotiations with the Netherlands about liquidity support had started with a take it or leave it attitude but that the proposal that is now on the table – the Caribbean Development and Support Organization (COHO) – is “more manageable.”

Walroud had a message for the Netherlands and for Curacao (and with it, for the other islands): “Enforcing by the Netherlands is not going to work. But always protesting and not being prepared to sit on a single blister won’t work either. On Curacao we must not push everything under the rug of colonialism.”

Walroud furthermore noted that lockdowns don’t work and that they are not necessary either: “The damages caused by the lockdowns are unimaginable. People are tired of corona and it won’t be long before companies will no longer be able to continue even if they get all kinds of support.”

MP William Marlin spoke on the first day on behalf of the Parliament of St. Maarten. He mentioned that MP Emmanuel had declared himself independent and that the government still has the support of nine MPs; he furthermore referred to the establishment of the Parliamentary Committee for Constitutional Affairs and Decolonization. Turning to St. Maarten’s financial affairs, Marlin said that the amendment to the 2020 budget and the draft 2021 budget are for review at the Council of Advice and that Parliament will probably handle this legislation mid-February.

Like the representatives of Aruba and Curacao, Marlin also made a brief remark about the kingdom dispute regulation. The Dutch delegation leader, Jan Paternotte, later called on the Dutch government to finally answer the questions from the Council of State about this draft legislation. The debate about the dispute regulation is now entering its eleventh year.

Marlin got questions from Senator Annemarie Jorritsma about decolonization. “What does St. Maarten mean by that?” Marlin referred to the content of article 73 of the United Kingdom Charter, but that did not satisfy Jorritsma who noted that “all this has already been done,” thereby supporting the notion that the decolonization process has in fact already been completed.

MP André Bosman asked whether St. Maarten’s purpose is to opt for independence and MP Ronald van Raak asked about the objective of the committee for constitutional affairs and decolonization: “Are you preparing a referendum or are you just going to talk?”

Marlin said that the current Parliament does not have a mandate from the population to pursue independence. “The population has never voted for independence,” he pointed out, adding that the committee would dive into the decolonization process and that it would live with whatever the outcome of that exercise is going to be.

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