French-side liaison to assist with governing programme


MARIGOT/PHILIPSBURG–The re-establishment of formal cooperation between the Dutch- and French sides of the island has taken to uncharted water with the aim of pulling the two administratively-different territories closer through the to-be-formulated governing programme of the incoming Dutch-side Government.

A liaison from the French-side government is expected to be appointed as part of the team that will draft the governing programme for the Dutch side.

The liaison’s role will specifically aid with ways to strengthen the 370 years of cooperation anchored in the Treaty of Concordia, and the even-longer ties that exist among the island’s people, United Democrats leader Member of Parliament (MP) Theo Heyliger told The Daily Herald on Sunday.

Heyliger, in his capacity as formateur of the incoming Government, recently met French side President Daniel Gibbs about the recovery of the Northern part of the island and the need for a symbiotic relationship to rev up the joint economy.
“I asked Monsieur le President Gibbs to appointment someone knowledgeable about the Dutch-side/French-side relationship and our challenges to join the team drafting the 2018-2022 governing programme for the Dutch side,” said Heyliger.

This move is “to hammer out what we can do together to bring our island back to her place as a leader in the Caribbean,” said Heyliger. He pointed out that the two sides are “but one, separated only by a European line. We are Siamese twins and it is high time we start to truly acknowledge this and work for the mutual benefit of our people.”

Gibbs welcomed Heyliger’s suggestion and is expected to name someone to the post within a short time.

This bringing together of the two sides of the island for a common goal is not a new concept; neither is the relationship between Gibbs and Heyliger.
In the early 2000s when Heyliger was Commissioner of Tourism and Gibbs was part of the French side’s Tourism Office board, they were directly involved with tourism promotion on their sides of the island and there was a sustained joint marketing of the destination in key markets. That venture secured a joint tourist bureau in New York City, which led to quite some successes that translated into more stayover visitors and higher awareness of the destination in the United States.

Fast-forward to late 2016, when the two sides had some ongoing cooperation, but all came to a halt. The breaking of ties came under the former National Alliance (NA)-led government and stemmed from issues related to the still-to-be-demarcated border in Oyster Bay and the legal standing of Captain Oliver’s Restaurant and Marina.

Formal cooperation between the two sides was rekindled this year under the current cabinet led by Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin. She led a delegation to Marigot on February 11 to meet Préfète Anne Laubies and President of the Collectivité of St. Martin Daniel Gibbs, ending some 14 months of no governmental contact or cooperation.

Source: The Daily Herald