~ Search for solution for Venezuelan refugees ~
SIMPSON BAY–The Parliaments of Curaçao, Aruba, St. Maarten and the Netherlands believe the Governments of the four countries within the Kingdom should keep searching for solutions to the problems in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom which result from the influx of refugees and undocumented persons from Venezuela. This is stated in the decision list signed by the four delegation leaders at the closing of the Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultations IPKO on Friday.
Another bone of contention during the four-day meeting was the introduction of a dispute regulation for the Kingdom. Parties could not agree on a joint statement on this, as each parliamentary delegation maintains its own position on this complicated matter. Parties indicated that they hope a dispute settlement will come as soon as possible.
The next IPKO will be held in The Hague June 25-28. Shortly thereafter, the draft law on the dispute regulation as approved by the Kingdom Council of Ministers will be up for debate in the Dutch Parliament’s Second Chamber.
Members of the four Kingdom parliaments and the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the Caribbean countries will be able to participate in the debates on the draft law and submit motions and amendments during the debate, leader of the Dutch parliamentary delegation Member of Parliament (MP) Jan Paternotte explained.
The representatives of the four Parliaments occasionally argued fiercely in the past week on the “humanitarian crisis” of Venezuelan migrants, primarily in Curaçao and Aruba.
The representatives of Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten are of the opinion that this is a matter for the Kingdom. The Netherlands believes it is primarily a task of the islands themselves, but that the Dutch Government would provide assistance where necessary.
The decision list mentions that all four Parliaments are aware of the consequences of the influx from Venezuela and that they insist that the four governments work together to find possible solutions to this problem.
In this context parties refer to a follow-up request for financial and technical assistance the Government of Curaçao will submit to the Kingdom Government soon, but also requests from Aruba and Curaçao to become part of a European Union programme through the intervention of the Kingdom to support countries in South America that are confronted with a large influx of Venezuelan refugees and migrants. This also applies to possible other international programmes of this nature.
Chairperson of IPKO and Chair of the Parliament of St. Maarten Sarah Wescot-Williams characterised the IPKO meeting in St. Maarten as some “hectic days of meetings” with “sometimes heated discussions” on the situation in Venezuela, the dispute regulation and sustainable development goals.
After leading four days of discussions, Wescot said she was “still pleased that the members of this IPKO are confident to move ahead together,” at the press conference that closed off the IPKO meeting at Simpson Bay Resort and Marina.
In his closing statement, Paternotte said he was pleased to see that one year after a Dutch parliamentary delegation visited St. Maarten, the IPKO delegation had noticed “more buildings restored, more roofs repaired and more hotels open for business today. Yet, we also have seen that things are not moving as quickly as we all want.”
In this respect, Paternotte said it was “very good news” that this week the Government of St. Maarten approved the US $100 million loan for the restoration of the terminal building at Princess Juliana International Airport.
“The airport is one of the lifelines for the country and the economy, and with a new terminal tourism can bounce back further and can bounce back stronger,” said Paternotte.
The Netherlands felt the responsibility to support the country in need after Hurricane Irma, Paternotte said. “We think this is the way forward. There is a significant amount of money available. The World Bank and the Government of St. Maarten work closely to put that money to work. And that is what the people need, not politicians playing the blame game, or politicians setting one up against the other, but rather good people working together to make it happen,” he said.
IPKO delegates paid working visits to the sanitary landfill and Mary’s Fancy plantation. The Dutch delegation had a meeting with the Council of Ministers on Thursday. Paternotte said it had been a very good, honest and positive meeting.”
He said IPKO had discussed matters of “tremendous” importance. “The situation in Venezuela, the reconstruction here in St. Maarten, but, for instance, also Brexit in Europe are challenges which affect all the countries in one way or the other,” he said.
Paternotte announced that during the IPKO in June the Parliaments will look into the possibilities to introduce a system of observers during elections in the Kingdom countries.
On behalf of Curaçao’s parliamentary delegation William Millerson said the deliberations during IPKO were sometimes difficult, but in the end the meeting was “very fruitful.”
MP Rocco Tjon from Aruba said various important topics had been addressed. “Contrary to many reports which have appeared in the media with regard to IPKO, I would like to indicate that we as delegation from Aruba have experienced IPKO as very positive.”
He said “good arrangements” had been made on the situation in Venezuela and as to the dispute regulation, he said the Aruba Parliament is confident that the Parliaments will come to a very good “end product.” He also said a workgroup has been installed to come with suggestions to improve Kingdom relations.