Minister Blok starts visit to islands in St. Maarten

THE HAGUE–Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok will arrive in St. Maarten this Monday for an introductory visit. St. Maarten’s reconstruction and the Trust Fund will play an important role in his two-day visit.

Minister Blok was appointed on March 7, 2018, replacing Halbe Zijlstra who resigned. During the course of next week he will visit St. Maarten, Aruba and Curaçao. During his first official visit to the Dutch Caribbean countries as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Blok will meet with the Prime Ministers of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten.

In St. Maarten, the Minister will meet with representatives of government. Discussed, among other things, will be St. Maarten’s reconstruction after Hurricane Irma and the pending agreement with the World Bank to manage Trust Fund on behalf of the Netherlands. The Minister will be in St. Maarten on Monday and Tuesday.

As Minister of Foreign Affairs, Blok is responsible for foreign relations of all four countries of the Kingdom. In that capacity, he will have a meeting in Curaçao next week Thursday with the three Dutch Caribbean Prime Ministers to discuss the various interests and priorities of the Caribbean part of the Kingdom.

During the annual Kingdom Consultation Foreign Relations, Prime Ministers Eugene Rhuggenaath of Curaçao, Evelyn Wever-Croes of Aruba and Leona Marlin-Romeo of St. Maarten and Minister Blok will talk about a number of current issues, including the very worrisome situation in Venezuela and the adverse effects thereof on Aruba and Curaçao, as well as the consequences of Hurricane Irma for St. Maarten and the reconstruction.

Aruba Prime Minister Wever-Croes said on Friday that she would certainly voice the concerns of her government as to the increasing illegal migration from Venezuela to Aruba and the unilateral decision of the Venezuela Government to close the border with Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao.

After the Kingdom Consultation in Curaçao on April 5, Minister Blok will travel on to Colombia. There, he will meet with his Colombia colleague, Minister of Foreign Affairs Maria Angela Holguin to discuss the bilateral relations with Colombia, the peace process in Colombia and the Dutch contribution to this process.

The two Ministers will also talk about the critical situation in Venezuela and the mass influx of Venezuela refugees in Colombia. Minister Blok will then travel to one of the reintegration zones of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia FARC in the northern part of the country. The Minister wants to witness how the peace agreement is being carried out.

Source: The Daily Herald