Philipsburg – Sint Maartens Statenvoorzitter Grisha Heyliger-Marten die de komende dagen het Interparlementair Koninkrijksoverleg voorzit, heeft in haar openingswoord het VVD-initiatiefwetsvoorstel om het de Caribische landen makkelijker te maken uit het Koninkrijk te treden omarmd. Zij sprak haar dank uit aan Tweede Kamerlid Roelien Kamminga voor het feit dat die het door haar voorganger André Bosman ingediende wetsontwerp onder haar hoede heeft genomen.
Aan het slot van haar toespraak riep Heyliger-Marten op “te werken aan een Koninkrijksstatuut dat een einde maakt aan alle geschillen tussen ons als Koninkrijkspartners. Een Koninkrijksstatuut dat zorgt voor echte capaciteitsopbouw in het Caribisch deel van het Koninkrijk en samenwerking op basis van gelijkwaardigheid, het democratisch tekort wegwerkt en volledig voldoet aan alle internationale wetten. Zou dat niet het mooiste ‘verjaardagscadeau’ zijn dat we de burgers van het hele Koninkrijk kunnen geven bij het 70-jarig bestaan van het Statuut in 2024?”
Hieronder de gehele toespraak van Grisha Heyliger-Marten
Honourable chairpersons of the Parliaments of Aruba and Curaçao, Chairpersons of the committees of Kingdom Affairs of the Parliaments of Aruba, Curaçao the Netherlands and Sint Maarten, Members of Parliament of Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands and Sint Maarten, Delegation leaders and members, Support staff, citizens of the Kingdom, ladies and gentlemen: Good morning, goedemorgen, bon dia, and welcome to this opening session of the Interparliamentary Kingdom Consultation (IPKO).
I wish all who have travelled to our island a very warm welcome to the friendly of Sint Maarten. I am happy to see some familiar faces, and look forward to getting to know the unfamiliar ones during the coming days. Despite the fact that some of you might have just missed Carnival, I am sure you will still be able to enjoy your stay on our island of Soualiga.
In preparing for my first IPKO back in 2020, I did some research on the history of the parliamentary consultations within the Kingdom, dating back to the 1970’s. Since then, the Kingdom has changed radically. Suriname left the constellation in 1975, Aruba attained its “Status Aparte” in 1986, and in 2010, Curaçao and Sint Maarten gained more autonomy as well.
If we look back, at this shared history of us as Kingdom Parliaments, a few things become clear. I will just mention two examples. Since 2010, 12 years and a number of IPKO’s have passed, yet we still don’t have a dispute regulation. And since 2020, 2 years and four IPKO’s have passed without us reaching agreement on the then CRE/CHE/COHO/COHO2.0.
And if we listen to the contents of my colleague MP. Sarah Wescott-Williams’ opening speech in January of 2019, everything she mentioned back then… is still relevant today. Now what does this mean, ladies and gentlemen? Could it be that this history of ours is trying to teach us a lesson? Could it be that there is something bigger going on that needs to be addressed than a dispute regulation or a COHO? Are we busy “dweilen met de kraan open”?
Suriname leaving the Kingdom in 1975, Aruba leaving the Netherlands Antilles in 1986, and its remnants being dismantled in 2010, what does that really tell us?
Have we, with the best intentions in the world via the Contact Plan, POK, and IPKO meetings, been trying to make an unworkable structure, work for all these decades? And have we, by doing so, been avoiding dealing with the proverbial “elephant in the room” all this time?
During my first IPKO, I made the statement that I hoped it would be my first and last IPKO. And that was not because I don’t value dialogue between us as Kingdom Partners, or because I don’t enjoy being in the company of my fellow Parliamentarians in the Caribbean and across the Atlantic. No, dear colleagues, I made that statement because I believe that history is trying to tell us that we cannot continue with business as usual within the Kingdom for the next 68 years. We cannot continue without addressing the fundamental issues that have led to the disputes within the Kingdom, and the changes that resulted from these disputes.
So since my first IPKO was not my last, let me express the hope here today that this IPKO will be the “IPKO of all IPKO’s”. And with that wish, ladies and gentlemen, I express hope. Hope that during this IPKO and moving forward, we as Kingdom Parliaments will finally address the elephant, or maybe elephants, in the room.
The biggest elephant that I see is the fact that, at least in practice, the relationships within the Kingdom are based on gelijkwaardigheid (equivalence), and not gelijkheid (equality). And without going into the semantics of the difference between the two, I’m sure everybody knows what I am referring to: the much-debated democratic deficit, that manifests itself in different shapes and forms.
That being said, ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues, I look forward to the deliberations in the coming days and I am also optimistic about the outcome.
My optimism stems mainly from three things. The first is the fact that the Dutch Government has committed to executing three motions passed in the Staten-Generaal, two in the Dutch Senate and one in the Dutch Parliament, the so-called “de Graaf” “van Raak”, and Rosenmöller motions. The van Raak motion was also co-sponsored by our colleagues from Aruba and Curaçao.
My second main reason for optimism is the fact that the Dutch Parliament has decided to add article 73 of the UN Charter to its “Kennisagenda”. I want to hereby thank colleague MP Jorien Wuite for her efforts to get this important item placed on the agenda of the Dutch Parliament.
And my third reason for optimism is that former MP André Bosman’s proposal to make it easier for the Caribbean islands to leave the constellation of the Kingdom Charter has been picked up by colleague MP Roelien Kamminga. I want to hereby thank and acknowledge her for this. I have had very frank and pleasant discussions with Mr. Bosman in the past. And although his proposal has some technical flaws in it, he truly understood what the elephant in the room is. Including his proposal in the execution of the three motions will allow us to have a discussion on all options that are on the table.
I am convinced that if we as Kingdom Parliamentarians jointly support the execution of all these initiatives, we will be able to once and for all address the fundamental issues that have faced the Kingdom since the Charter for the Kingdom came into being.
Let us work towards creating a Kingdom Charter that will end all disputes between us as Kingdom partners. A Kingdom Charter that ensures true capacity building for the Caribbean part of the Kingdom and cooperation based on equality, eliminates the democratic deficit, and fully complies with all international laws.
And wouldn’t that be the best “birthday gift” that we can give the citizens of the entire Kingdom on the 70th anniversary of the Statuut in 2024?
And with that my fellow colleagues, I wish us all fruitful deliberations. And to our visitors, once again welcome, and have a wonderful stay on our friendly Island.
I, thank you!