photo: Hilbert Haar

PHILIPSBURG – State Secretary of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops says he is not yet convinced that the conflict between The Hague and St. Maarten has simmered after the Council of Ministers in Philipsburg agreed to significant changes in Boarder Control and the setup of an Integrity Chamber.

Prime Minister William Marlin announced Monday during a press conference that his government now agrees with the Kingdom government appointing a member to the Integrity Chamber. Another member will be designated by the Ministerial Council in Philipsburg and a chairman will be appointed by the two chosen members.

However, Knops said today that written promises from the government of St. Maarten are not enough. Knops wants to know whether Prime Minister Marlin agrees to the conditions “unambiguously”.

The Netherlands gave the government of St. Maarten until today, Tuesday to vote on the two conditions. These conditions have been specified by the Kingdom, which will allow St. Maarten to receive financial aid for reconstruction after Hurricane Irma.

St. Maarten initially wanted the appointments to the chamber to be handled by the Joint Court of Justice, the General Court of Auditors and the Ombudsman in Philipsburg, which would have excluded The Hague.

The government also agrees with the appointment of more Marechaussees and Dutch Customs Officers for border control “as long as constitutional integrity remains intact.”

Last Friday, Sarah Wescot-Williams, leader of the Democratic Party and Chairman of Parliament, threatened to remove herself from the coalition if she could not convey her position on the terms. Chanel Brownbill (USp) took sides with Wescot-Williams.

Dutch diplomats
Dutch diplomats spoke to the government of St. Maarten again today, according to a spokesman of the Ministry of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations. Previously, the Dutch government gave St. Maarten until October 31, 2017 to give feedback on the two conditions.