Knops 4: “Sometimes you have to maneuver around something to get to the target… With Sint Maarten, that was just much more complicated.”

State Secretary Knops:
I do not think it helps in the relationship between two countries the charges just mentioned, namely elements such as doubting the intentions and placing things in the perspective of postcolonial et cetera. That makes it all complicated. Sometimes you have to maneuver around something to get to the target. In a relationship in which there are only two countries in the Kingdom, one of which has a problem as a result of a natural disaster, you hope to be able to organize it differently. There’s some truth in that. In fact, it also has a lot to do with the discussion we just had about autonomy. Of course, that disaster was huge. No country with the size of Saint Martin can bear it. But in reconstruction and the things you can do, you need a certain execution force. Let me give you an example, namely Saba. That’s of a completely different order. That’s a public body. They were able to do so very quickly, also with the help of the Netherlands, but still, to pick it up themselves. It is a smaller island with fewer inhabitants, but it had the knowledge and skill to do so. With Sint Maarten, that was just much more complicated.
With the knowledge of that time, we would make the same decision, perhaps even with today’s knowledge. Only in the preliminary phase, i.e. before the start, you might have to more firmly establish what the conditions are that a country must meet in order to make it a success, for example that establishment agreement and ensure that you have sufficient knowledge and skills. We may have had too much confidence there, as in a larger sense with the autonomy of the countries, that if you make an appointment, they will fill it out as well. Then it’s not always a matter of unwillingness. Sometimes it’s also a matter of powerlessness. They sign, but they can’t deliver in the end. Then in the end you have no roof and no waste mountain cleaned up.

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