The Hague Paul Comenencia, on behalf of Curaçao State Councilor of the Kingdom and former minister plenipotentiary of the Netherlands Antilles, would like to see the Association Antillean Network (VAN) spread its wings to the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom.
Comenencia argued for this today in his lecture on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the network organization. Due to the corona measures, the anniversary was celebrated via a Zoom meeting. Comenencia emphasized the importance of the association, which he believes can increase even more if it grows into a kingdom-wide network.
It could, Comenencia said, help increase the knowledge on both sides of the ocean about what is really going on in the different parts of the Kingdom. Read his entire nomination below.
From quiet diplomacy to position of influence
Chairman members of the Antillean Network, dear guests, thank you for inviting us to speak for you at this first ZOOM meeting of the Network this year. That many more meetings may follow this year, preferably in person, otherwise via one of the many online opportunities that we have been able to experience in the past year.
The chairman has given me an ambitious speaking assignment: From silent diplomacy to an influential position. I will hear from you during the exchange of views later to what extent the charge of my story deserves the cover of this beautiful flag. The 20th anniversary of an Association that is proud of its young history, and that also wants to mean a lot for the future, requires a brief reflection on the past and the future.
One of the first obligations after my appointment as Minister Plenipotentiary of the Netherlands Antilles in the summer of 2004, was to visit a members’ evening of the Antillean Network, at the time still in the Marriott Hotel in Amsterdam. The size of the meeting and the quality of the audience impressed me and I immediately registered as a member, although I had no idea for how long. After all, the cabinet that appointed me had only a year and a half to go until the elections in January 2006. Anyway, we are more than 16 years later, without ever having to or wanting to cancel my membership.
The image of the Association Antillean Network that I have formed for myself over the course of these 16 years is that the Association in the Netherlands brings together the very best of people with a connection to the six islands. People who, regardless of whether they were born and raised there or here, have a warm heart for the islands and are always willing to make an extra contribution to help the population of the islands, here and there, a step further in the right direction.
And the great thing about this network is that, as a professional, you don’t have to have a specific, prominent profile to fit in, you don’t have to be a wealthy businessman, top civil servant or professor, as long as you have something positive about the islands and are willing to work for Aruba Bonaire, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius and Saba, and for our Antillean community in the Netherlands. In the years that I have been visiting activities of the Network, it has been predominantly the kind of people that I have encountered. The Network’s website also largely confirms this image (or prejudice) I have of the Network: “As a platform and association” , it says on the site, “we want to to tell, comment on and discuss the other story of the Caribbean Dutch ”. End of quote. And according to the statutes, the association aims to organize discussion meetings between not only members and third parties in the Netherlands, but also on the islands. I would like to talk to you further about those two points:
• the mission of this association to, as the website states, tell “the other story”
• and the untapped potential of expanding the Antillean Network into a Kingdom-wide network, with members not only in the Netherlands, but also on our islands.
But first about that other story. One of the constants in Kingdom relations and the position of Caribbean Kingdom citizens in the Netherlands is the mutual misunderstanding and the often needless discussions that arise from this. Journalist Natasja Gibbs spotted it yesterday in an interview with De Volkskrant. She likes to be part of two different worlds and would like more people to feel connected to the Caribbean part of our Kingdom. She says more about this theme and other subjects, but you should read the story for yourself. https://dossierkoninkrijksrelaties.nl/2021/03/07/staatsraad-paul-comenencia-spoort-jubilerend-antilliaans-netwerk-aan-koninkrijksbreed-te-gaan/