Raymond Knops

Knops 9: Can Knops Call What The Dutch Did In Statia, A Democracy?

Mr Rosenmöller (GroenLinks), Asked a provocative question:
“…..I did ask that question. There’s a certain board. That board doesn’t deliver and even performs so poorly that you have to intervene. That has been unanimously supported here and across the street. Then there is an interim situation for two years, in which the Netherlands does everything and everything. Then there are elections and then the same administration comes back. Can you suffice to say that that is democracy? Is that all? That is certainly democracy, of course, but should you not also think about what we have actually achieved? Because it’s also about doing it with the people, isn’t it? Those are your words, too, and they’ve been taken from my heart.
State Secretary Knops:
That’s definitely democracy. You can try to explain that, to give a political indication of that. You can, but that’s only half the story. You could indeed say: we have made a leap in time, but everything is still exactly the same. The opposite is true, because we have done an enormous amount over the last two and a half years to put public finances in order. We invested an awful lot there. It’s really about very large numbers, in terms of the airport, the cliff, erosion approach. We have done this not only with money, but also with capacities that were not available or not enough available on the island itself. We also solved some of the problems experienced by the people there. But our goal has never been to take over permanently. We want to get back to the situation where people can make their own choice.
There was quite a bit of tension, because from the House of Representatives and also from this Chamber the question was: let us not exist too long now, should we not now give people the choice to elect their own representatives of the people? Coincidentally or not — there really were more people on the list — these people will be there again. The question that is important to me now is: are the Government Commissioner and his deputy, together with the Island Council, able to move on to the next stage? Are they able to do not only all the things that are needed in a public body, around finance, ICT management, roads, housebuilding, etc., but also to get into a culture in which you get that interplay of dualism, of an island council with deputies, in the next phase, and a commander? Because that’s the end goal. That remains to be seen.
I have to say that I … In recent weeks, I have occasionally heard members of the Island Council criticise us for doing so. They say it’s not as good now as it once was. That’s not really the case. We can just prove that. We have before and after photos. The island is better and more resilient. But it is also about the question: are you willing, also there, to reflect on your own position or are you going to send the same message again as before 2018? I don’t think that’s wise. For the time being, I am assuming that we can take steps forward every time. As long as we can, we can move on to the next phase. If we can’t, we can’t. So it is also up to the island itself to show that it is their mean…”

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