THE HAGUE--Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk on Wednesday promised the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament to work on a dispute arrangement ("geschillenregeling") for the Kingdom.
Plasterk did so during the handling of the draft 2015 Kingdom Relations budget, on the insistence of the Democratic Party D66, the Christian Democratic Party CDA and the ChristianUnion (CU).
Plasterk said that he would try to reach a consensus with all four countries in the Kingdom before the next Kingdom Conference which takes place in Curaçao in April 2015. He admitted that a consensus needed to be reached in order to comply with article 12a of the Kingdom Charter which mentions a dispute arrangement.
The Dutch Caribbean Parliaments earlier this year approved a joint motion demanding a dispute arrangement. In 2010, the Second Chamber supported a motion of Aruba Members of Parliament Rene Herdé and Juan Yrausquin to set up such an arrangement soon.
Member of the Second Chamber Wassila Hachchi (D66) brought forward the issue of a dispute arrangement several times during the Kingdom Relations budget handling on Wednesday. "The disputes with Aruba and St. Maarten have shown that we can't wait forever with the establishing of an arrangement. "We need tempo."
Member of Parliament (MP) Gert-Jan Segers (CU) asked the minister to look at the possibility of an Arbitrary Court or a special Chamber at the Council of State. "The form is not so important, as long as the countries within the Kingdom have a place where they can present their grievances and put forward their conflict to independent judges that will look at the matter with a more objective view than the Kingdom Council of Ministers," he said.
Wassila Hachchi asked the minister to assume a more active role in maintaining better relations in the Kingdom. She said that the pressure on the relations between The Hague and the islands has grown. She said Plasterk appeared to be Minister of Kingdom Fights instead of a Minister of Kingdom Relations who tried to solve matters together with the islands.
MP André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party wasn't too enthusiastic about a dispute arrangement, especially not one in which the four countries have an equal say. "This is how I see it: a seat division with one seat for St. Maarten, two seats for Aruba, three for Curaçao and 334 for the Netherlands."
According to Bosman, the four countries are not equal simply because of their interests and population size. "The interests are different. That is something that we all need to be aware of. We agree that there are four autonomous countries in the Kingdom, but Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten have the idea that we all have the same interests. That can never be. You have the interests of 16 million people in the Netherlands and the interests of 40,000 St. Maarteners. There is a big difference," he said.