FULL Details Jacobs/Knops meeting amicable, but Parliament reassurance still needed. Knops and Rolando Brison communicated, still disagree about U.N. Petition.
Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs held what she called an “amicable” meeting with Dutch State Secretary for Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK Raymond Knops on Monday, but she indicated that “more reassurance” was still needed from the Parliament of St. Maarten.
Knops said in a letter to the Dutch Second Chamber of Parliament on Friday last that St. Maarten will not be receiving some NAf. 39 million in liquidity support until Parliament clarifies its position on the petition recently submitted to the United Nations (UN) and confirms approval for the Caribbean Entity for Reform and Development COHO.
“The meeting was amicable; however, it is clear that the [State Secretary – Ed.] still needed more reassurance from Parliament which is not mine to give,” Jacobs told press on Tuesday.
“He agrees that we (government) have lived up to the agreements and I reiterated that St. Maarten is very disappointed that we aren’t able to move forward as per agreements made based on the feelings of BZK, with support from the RMR [Kingdom Council of Ministers].”
Jacobs said that in government’s opinion the goalpost continues to be moved, as the condition for fifth tranche of liquidity support was the finalisation of the Implementation Agenda (in Dutch: uitvoeringsagenda) which is ahead of schedule “and yet this didn’t happen – a clear example of how the democratic deficit negatively affects us.”
Jacobs said that in a follow-up meeting held on Tuesday arranged by the Dutch Representation Office in St. Maarten, Chairperson of Parliament Rolando Brison joined the conversation and was able to convey the intentions of the petition submitted to the UN Rapporteur. “The State Secretary still expects to receive such in writing and if it satisfies him and his colleagues who have been mandated by the RMR to decide such, we can proceed.”
She said noteworthy to mention is that the signing of the implementation did not proceed, even as St. Maarten remains committed to the process.
“I look forward to hearing the reaction of those mandated to decide on behalf of the RMR. However, I earnestly believe the more the Netherlands insists on this statement from Parliament, the more they give further indication that the democratic deficit is being used against us as smaller countries in the Kingdom,” said Jacobs.
“The State Secretary pledged to want to proceed and continue to repair the relationship between the Netherlands and the island, but it appears we still await the verdict based on Parliament’s explanation, which I find uncalled for as their expressions don’t weigh in at this time.
“I made sure to make it very clear to the State Secretary that while we have shown understanding for the sentiments of the Netherlands when negative utterances are made against them politically, they seem to not understand that this insistence on things being done their way every time there is a dispute, in exchange for needed liquidity during this time of crisis, also puts more fuel to the thoughts and feelings by us in the islands that we not treated equitably in the Kingdom.”
Jacobs encouraged Knops to keep this in mind as well, as we seek to improve relations based on mutual understanding and trust.
S.N.D: SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – On Monday, March 29, 2021, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and her support staff were invited to a meeting arranged by the Dutch representative’s office with State Secretary Knops. The meeting was amicable, however, State Secretary Knops still needed more reassurance from the Parliament of Sint Maarten concerning support for the trajectory of the Kingdom Consensus Law COHO and the country package agreements finalized in December 2020.
Prime Minister Jacobs stated, “During the meeting, State Secretary Knops agreed that the Government of Sint Maarten has lived up to the agreements. As such, Sint Maarten is very disappointed that we aren’t able to move forward as per the agreements made based upon the feelings of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) with support from the Kingdom Council of Ministers (RMR).”
“In government’s opinion, the goal post continues to be moved, as the condition for the fifth tranche of liquidity support was the finalization of the Implementation Plan which is ahead of schedule. In light of this, the signing of the Implementation Plan did not proceed as State Secretary Knops expected even as Sint Maarten remains committed to the process. This is a clear example of how the democratic deficit negatively affects us in the Dutch Caribbean,” Prime Minister Jacobs continued.
During the meeting, Prime Minister Jacobs made it clear to State Secretary Knops that while Sint Maarten has shown understanding for the sentiments of the Netherlands when negative utterances are made against them politically, they seem to not understand that this insistence on things being done their way every time there is a dispute in exchange for needed liquidity support during this time of crisis also adds more fuel to the thoughts and feelings by the Dutch Caribbean islands that we are not treated equitably in the Kingdom. As such, Prime Minister Jacobs encouraged State Secretary Knops to keep that in mind as well as both parties seek to improve relations based on mutual understanding and trust.
In an informal follow-up meeting held today, between State Secretary Knops and the Chair of Parliament Rolando Brison, the Chair of Parliament joined the conversation and was able to convey the intentions of the petition submitted to the United Nations rapporteur. State Secretary Knops is expecting to receive such in writing and once this letter is deemed satisfactory to State Secretary Knops and his colleagues who have been mandated by the RMR to decide such, Sint Maarten may then be allowed to proceed with the trajectory of the COHO Law, the established country package agreements and further liquidity support.
Prime Minister Jacobs stated, “I look forward to hearing the reaction of those mandated to decide on behalf of the RMR, however, I earnestly believe the more the Government of the Netherlands insists on this statement from the Parliament of Sint Maarten, the more they give further indication that the democratic deficit is being used against us as smaller countries within the Kingdom. State Secretary Knops has expressed the need to proceed and continue repairing the relationship between the Netherlands and Sint Maarten. However, we will await the verdict based upon Parliament’s explanation which is outside of their purview as their expressions do not weigh in the trajectory of the COHO Law at this time.
D.K.R: Philipsburg In the negotiations with Sint Maarten about corona support, the Netherlands is constantly moving the goalposts, according to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs after the (digital) consultation with State Secretary Raymond Knops (BZK). According to the Prime Minister, the response of the Dutch government to the indictment brought by a majority of the States against the Netherlands to the UN underlines the democratic deficit in the Kingdom.
Jacobs says he understands that the accusations of racism, oppression and violation of human rights have fallen wrong in The Hague, but at the same time he is “very disappointed” that this has resulted in the liquidity support to Sint Maarten being frozen while its government has met all the conditions. The actions of the Netherlands are fueling the sentiment that the Caribbean parts are not being treated fairly, she warns.
Knops has now also had informal contact with President of Parliament Rolando Brison. He explained the why of the UN petition. However, the State Secretary continues to insist that Parliament must confirm in writing that they fully support the agreement on corona support concluded in December and therefore distance themselves from their accusation. Only then will the 39 million guilders be transferred that Sint Maarten needs to pay civil servants’ salaries in the coming months.
Jacobs: The harder the Netherlands pushes for a statement by the States, the more clear it becomes that the democratic deficit in the Kingdom is being used against the small countries. Nevertheless, she thinks that her conversations with Knops turn into a amicable atmosphere expired. The Prime Minister receives support from the Council of State for her accusation that the Netherlands is constantly moving the goalposts. He pointed out in his advice on the Coho legislation that the Netherlands has a hand in changing the rules of the game during the game.
THE DAILY HERALD
DOSSIER KINGDOM RELATIONS