THE HAGUE--St. Maarten Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs is satisfied with his first working visit to the Netherlands. “I got the message clearly across to the ministers that we want good relations and that the attitude of the Netherlands is not conducive to solid relations in the Kingdom.”
Gumbs’ main reason for paying an official visit to the Netherlands for the first time since his appointment in December 2014 was the invitation to attend final event of the 200th anniversary of the Dutch Kingdom which took place in Amsterdam on Saturday.
While in the Netherlands, Gumbs also made use of the opportunity to have a meeting with several of the Dutch Ministers, the Council of State and the Presidents of the First and Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament.
“It was a good week with good meetings,” he told The Daily Herald on Saturday, one day before travelling on to New York where he will join the Kingdom delegation for the United Nations’ General Assembly.
Gumbs said that he had made clear from the moment the current government took office that St. Maarten wanted good relations with the Netherlands and the other partners in the Kingdom. However, the harsh attitude displayed by the Dutch Government towards St. Maarten, issuing instructions in the area of finances and integrity and bad talking the island, hasn’t contributed to solid relations.
The meetings with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk were described as positive. “I emphasized that I want better relations. I think we were able to clear up some things with Rutte. I want to work with the Kingdom I told him. I hope my message will help to improve the relations.”
The meeting with Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders was of a different nature for the relations with this minister have been particularly well. “He recognizes the importance of having good relations within the Kingdom. How the Kingdom can contribute, for example, in lobbying for the Netherlands to attain a seat in the United Nations Security Council. We are working together as a Kingdom to secure this seat. He appreciates that level of working together,” said Gumbs.
In the meetings with the Presidents of the First and Second Chamber, Ankie Broekers-Knol and Anouchka van Miltenburg respectively, Gumbs brought up the Dispute Arrangement (Geschillenregeling) and the fact that this regulation has still not materialised despite the fact that the four Parliaments in the Kingdom have reached an agreement on this issue.
The Governments of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten support the wish of the four Parliaments as expressed at the last Inter-Parliamentary Consultation for the Kingdom IPKO. “However, there seems [to be – Ed.] little interest from the side of the Dutch Government to move forward on this,” he said.
The follow-up meeting to solve this matter, one of the decisions that were taken at the June 16 Kingdom Conference in Curaçao, never happened. The three Dutch Caribbean countries are now working on a draft document relating to the set-up of the Dispute Regulation. “We hope that this paper can serve as a basis for discussions in the Kingdom. It is urgent, because the longer it takes to set up this regulation, the more stress will build up in the Kingdom.”
Gumbs admitted that it had taken a while for him to pay a first working visit to the Netherlands. He said that things had been quite busy for the first months after the appointment of his government. He said that the Council of Ministers was now complete and that there was more time to invest in strengthening relations in the Kingdom as well as in the Caribbean.
Gumbs expressed special appreciation for the Cabinet of Minister Plenipotentiary Josiane Fleming-Artsen in The Hague. “I am impressed and I appreciate the load of work that they carry out with a small team.”