Sint Maartens Statenvoorzitter Sarah Wescot-Williams.

Learning of each other

Speech Statenvoorzitter Sarah Wescot-Williams

It is truly an honor to address you in my capacity as President and delegation leader of the Parliament of Sint Maarten.

The people of Sint Maarten went to the polls on January 11, 2024, to elect their representatives in Parliament. On February 10, 2024, these elected Members of Parliament were sworn in and held their first meeting for this Parliamentary Term, in which the President was elected unanimously, a first in Sint Maarten’s history.

Exactly a year ago, the last Interparliamentary Kingdom Consultations (IPKO) took place here in the Hague, the Netherlands. The discussions ranged from a consensus kingdom law for data protection to the to-be-established National Slavery Museum, the colonial and slavery past, the Kingdom conference, climate change, education, and the concerns of Caribbean students in the Netherlands. 

As a delegation, we believe that our attendance and participation in each IPKO should be geared towards cooperative continued open dialogue between Kingdom partners, aiming to attain tangible and impactful results for the people in our countries who are the people of this Kingdom.

It is with this in mind that we are pleased that during this IPKO, we will discuss education and the issues that continue to be faced by students from the Caribbean in the Netherlands. It is my hope that this platform continues to push and provide solutions for these issues. We are also pleased that we will discuss poverty within the Kingdom and poverty alleviation. This is an issue that continues to grow in our communities, and we must share best practices in order to tackle poverty in the countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Considering the elections held in the Netherlands in November of last year, the recently held elections in Sint Maarten, and the fact that Sint Maarten will return to the polls on August 19, 2024, this IPKO will be characterized by acquainting ourselves with each other, starting discussions on new mutual topics, and continuing discussions on other mutual topics. One such topic is the democratic deficit.

We have discussed the democratic deficit within the Kingdom at lengths in previous IPKOs. However, I hope that it is during this IPKO that we can make clear decisions as IPKO as it relates to questions we would like to ask the Kingdom Government, questions we would like to ask our Governments, and as Parliaments that we will agree to continue to request the convening of a Kingdom Conference as we see the need for this. This might be of more importance and urgency considering the sentence in the outline agreement of the new Dutch coalition stemming from the November 2023 Parliamentary elections: “The Netherlands considers the Caribbean part of the Kingdom as valuable.” We must continue to think about this Kingdom’s future and ensure that our value within the Kingdom and the world is recognized and respected.

As the Sint Maarten delegation participates in this IPKO, our people are not only dealing with the current political situation but we are also going through an energy crisis. The latter shows that we have to continue putting emphasis on the need for sustainable development and moving towards living situations such as the Green Village we visited last year during the IPKO. We must ensure access to affordable electricity (by 2030), as such we will need to invest in clean energy sources such as solar, wind and thermal. Within the Kingdom we can learn much from each other on this point.

Lastly, I would like to thank the host country, the Netherlands, in advance for the organization of this IPKO thus far.

I thank you for your attention and I wish us all a pleasant, fruitful, and impactful IPKO.

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