Inter-parliamentary Consultation The Hague

THE HAGUE--The four Parliaments in the Kingdom used Tuesday, the first day of their four-day Inter-parliamentary Consultation, to make their marks on cooperation within the Kingdom. St. Maarten, Aruba and the Netherlands agreed that cooperation was key to better relations that would benefit the people.

Curaçao on the other hand stressed that the relations should serve Country Curaçao and the emancipation of its people.

"Agreements on cooperation in the Kingdom can only be based on voluntarism and equality," said Chairman of Curaçao's Parliament Ivar Asjes (Pueblo Soberano PS). He spoke of an "added value" to create more respect for our autonomy, best serving the interest and the further emancipation of the people of Curaçao on the road to independence.

Chairman of the Kingdom Relations Committee of Curaçao's Parliament Dean Rozier (Movimientu Forsa Korsou MFK) said priority needs to be given to the interest of Curaçao, the building of its society and the emancipation of its people. He said with the Netherlands Antilles ceasing to exist, Curaçao could finally focus on its own progress.

Chairwoman of St. Maarten's Parliament Gracita Arrindell (UP) conveyed the wish to further intensify the relations in the Kingdom and to come to concrete agreements that would serve the interest of all Kingdom partners. She said decisions taken by the Parliaments should serve as a "solid basis for the development of everyone in the Kingdom" and that they should benefit the peoples of all countries.

Chairman of St. Maarten's Parliamentary Committee for Kingdom Relations Roy Marlin (DP) said the new relations provided an opportunity to discuss the benefits of cooperation within the Kingdom. "We have to be able to show our people concrete results. This trip cost about NAf. 140,000 in travel expenses. If we don't have concrete results at the end, it makes no sense to resume talks in six months. That would be a pity, it would be destruction of capital," said Marlin.

Respect

Independent St. Maarten Member of Parliament Patrick Illidge called on the partners to respect one another and to refrain from fighting each other via the media. "It is not conducive to better relations if we continue to slaughter each other," he said.

Inter-parliamentary Consultation Chairwoman Brigitte van der Burg of the liberal democratic VVD party hoped for "open talks" that would result in stronger relations. "Let's deploy our contacts and networks, and let's look for ways of cooperation. We all belong to one Kingdom, let's make the best of it," she said.

The Curaçao delegation displayed an attitude that it didn't care much about cooperation. Parliament Chairman Asjes said the control by the Kingdom Council of Ministers formed an "important obstacle" for equality. "The Kingdom Council of Ministers has no respect for the Parliament of Curaçao," he said.

Asjes said there could be no equality if there was no way to end the Kingdom Consensus Laws that regulated supervision in Curaçao and St. Maarten. Kingdom Relations Committee Rozier said Curaçao wanted an end to the supervisory role of the Kingdom.

Leader of Curaçao's PS party Helmin Wiels said the new constitutional relations "felt like a prison with lots of rules and supervision." He referred to a recent statement by St. Maarten's Vice-prime Minister Theo Heyliger who called the Kingdom Law on Financial Supervision "modern day slavery."

Member of the Second Chamber Eric Lucassen of the Party for Freedom PVV agreed that the current structure in the Kingdom was "a modern prison with the Netherlands acting as police officer." He said the PVV stood for "complete emancipation of the people of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten," meaning that the islands should become independent.

Corruption

Lucassen made a case to add the topic of "gigantic corruption" on the islands to the agenda of the Inter-parliamentary Consultation. "Before we can discuss nice ideological things like better education and the construction of wind turbines, we should talk about a proper foundation and that is good governance. When you build a house, you also start with a solid foundation before selecting a nice colour of paint," he said.

Chairwoman Van der Burg said corruption was not on the agenda of the meetings this week. Helmin Wiels said he didn't mind putting corruption on the agenda of the next Inter-parliamentary Consultation. But, he added, "It has to be placed in a broader context by discussing corruption within the Kingdom." Gracita Arrindell said St. Maarten didn't avoid any topic and agreed that it could be discussed at a next event.

This week's Inter-parliamentary Consultation marks the first time the four Parliaments come together since the new constitutional relations went into effect on October 10, 2010. Acting Chairman of the First Chamber Klaas de Vries of the labour party PvdA spoke of an "ambition" to design the contact between the four Parliaments in a "practical way" that was "aimed at the future" and "significant" for the people. He said it was the responsibility of the Parliaments to work on a "sustainable future for the citizens of the Kingdom."

Chairman of Aruba's Parliament Paul Croes of the AVP party said Aruba had assumed a "leading role" in improving relations in the Kingdom. Aruba is doing this by creating strategic partnerships in the Kingdom.

In the coming days, the Parliaments will discuss topics of mutual interest such as education, sustainable energy, economic development and the modernisation of the Kingdom Charter. Parties already indicated their wishes for agenda points of the next consultation such as brain-drain and offering the youth on the islands more prospects, the high cost of living on the islands, the quality of life in general, the process of Kingdom Laws and support for the Dutch "public entities" Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

15 June 2011

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