Parliament Presidium meets with Dutch Foreign Minister Koenders

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L to R, Vice President MP Hon. Leona Marlin-Romeo, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Bert Koenders, President Hon. Dr. Lloyd Richardson and Vice President MP Hon. Cornelius de Weever.

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – President of Parliament Hon. Dr. Lloyd Richardson, Vice President and Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Leona Marlin-Romeo, and Vice President MP Hon. Cornelius de Weever, who form the Presidium of Parliament, met with Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Bert Koenders during his working visit to Sint Maarten last week.
President Richardson stated that a number of issues were discussed that will be brought forward in the upcoming Inter –Parliamentary Kingdom Consultation (IPKO) scheduled to take place in The Hague, the Netherlands during the last week of May.

Minister Koenders inquired about the concerns of Sint Maarten and asked how he could assist in resolving the issues.
Some of the issues discussed between the Presidium and the Minister were: persons who have lost their Dutch nationality due to administrative errors and how this issue can be resolved; lack of access to funding for certain types of programs for which Sint Maarten does not qualify due to the fact that it’s an integral part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Minister Koenders said that European Development Funds (11th EDF) would provide more funding opportunities for the country.

Another area is economic activity and the possibility for Sint Maarten to benefit from its position as part of the Kingdom. This is related to the Netherlands position where it is the only European country that does the most business with Latin America.

The Presidium would like to explore the opportunities and possibilities that exist where Sint Maarten due to its strategic geographical position could function as a sub-hub for Dutch imports/exports.
Most goods and products coming out of East Asia goes thru the Panama Canal, and the Presidium sees the opportunity where the country could act as a sub-hub/distribution center to other Caribbean countries and more specifically, the north eastern Caribbean.

Port St. Maarten has been acting as a trans-shipment port for this specific area of the Caribbean for many years.
The opening up of Cuba and what this will mean for Sint Maarten was also discussed. The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs will draft a report about his visit to Cuba and forward this to the Government of Sint Maarten.

The Friendship Treaty between the United States of America (USA) and the Netherlands was also discussed with respect to whether the treaty is reciprocal or only for the benefit of the USA.
Future plans regarding border control and how Sint Maarten can play a bigger role was also a point of discussion.

Minister Koenders wanted to know how the Kingdom embassies could be of assistance to Sint Maarten and where and how linkages could be made.
The Presidium and Minister Koenders also spoke about the relationship regarding the Caribbean Community as well as Climate Change and how a common agenda needs to be developed regarding the aforementioned.

PHOTO CUTLINE: L to R, Vice President MP Hon. Leona Marlin-Romeo, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Bert Koenders, President Hon. Dr. Lloyd Richardson and Vice President MP Hon. Cornelius de Weever.