July 11, 2012 7:47 AM
THE HAGUE - Former Senior Legal Counsel at the Cabinet of then -Lt. Governor Franklyn Richards and current Director of the Administrative Jurisdiction Department of the Council of State Erwin Arkenbout has been appointed Director of Kingdom Relations at the Dutch Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK.
Arkenbout's appointment will go into effect on September 1, 2012. The BZK and Council of State staff as well as the Dutch Representatives in Willemstad, Curaçao; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Oranjestad, Aruba were informed of his appointment on Tuesday.
"A dream has come true," said Arkenbout (52), when The Daily Herald asked him for a reaction. "I still have very warm feelings for the islands. My wife [Mariette van Soesbergen, who headed the Special Editions department at The Daily Herald-Ed.] and I had a great time in St. Maarten and the experience of working and living in St. Maarten was priceless. I learned a lot," he said.
Arkenbout, who worked at the Cabinet of the Lt. Governor from February 2002 until July 2004, always maintained contact with the islands and kept monitoring the constitutional developments after he left St. Maarten to become the Head of the Department of Constitutional and Administrative Law at the Dutch Ministry of Justice, a position he held until December 2009.
A law graduate of Radboud University in Nijmegen, Arkenbout was appointed Director of the Administrative Jurisdiction Department at the Council of State, in January 2010, where he heads a team of some 400 lawyers involved in preparing legal advice for the administrative cases that the Council handles.
At the Ministry of BZK, Arkenbout will head a much smaller team. The work will also be very different. Work will be of a more external nature than at the Council of State. The Directorate of Kingdom Relations handles cooperation with the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. The Directorate gives policy advice to the Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations and handles intra-departmental coordination in the execution of the policy of the Dutch Government in The Netherlands and the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. The Directorate is also responsible for planning, setting up and executing programmes and projects to stimulate cooperation with the Caribbean part of the Kingdom.
Peter Welling is the current Acting Director of Kingdom Relations. He temporarily took over from the former Director Hans Gerritsen, who left earlier this year. Arkenbout said he was very much looking forward to playing his part in maintaining and investing in relations with the islands. Arkenbout said he had "deep respect" for people in the islands, especially St. Maarten. "I have great respect for their hands-on, no-nonsense attitude. The strength they show in bouncing back after a major event strikes – like a hurricane – is incredible," he said about the St. Maarten people. In St. Maarten, Arkenbout supported the Cabinet of Lt. Governor Richards on legal and policy matters and helped establish direct relations with institutions in The Netherlands such as the Council of State.
Former Lt. Governor Franklyn Richards was elated as he responded to the news of Arkenbout's appointment. "He is a person of both rational and emotional intelligence. He knew what went on in The Hague, but he also understood the people of the Caribbean part of the Kingdom," he said. According to Richards, Arkenbout has the unique ability to make "a win-win situation" of the "rational view" of The Hague on the Dutch Caribbean and the sentiments of the governments and people of the islands towards The Hague. "I wish him much success in this very important job for the legal entities in the Dutch Kingdom," he said.
Source: The Daily Herald by Suzanne Koelega