For 374 years, the people of St. Martin; North and South, have lived peacefully as neighbors commemorating a unique and successful legacy on one territory, with a shared history, culture and family ties. Every year, on March 23rd, we recognize this day when officials signed the Treaty of Concordia, a day in the height of the colonial era, in the midst of many disputes for our beloved sweet St. Martin. Focusing on this arrangement, it has been the very basis of the free movement of persons enjoyed today by the people of the northern and southern sides of the island.
Today, we continue to remain connected by so much both formally and informally, fueled by the need to work together for the betterment of all the people of these 37 square miles. This responsibility encompasses the collaboration of leaders, communities, departments, organizations and individuals on both sides of the island with full awareness of how decision-making on either side may impact the entire island.
We are now living in unprecedented times and like other countries around the world, have faced several challenges in the last few years. In the face of adversity, we continue to strive to move forward together and have found many ways to collaborate. Thus far, we have a history of collaboration in the areas of law enforcement, health, culture, education, youth, sport and the enhancement of our tourism product. Nonetheless, there is much more to be done as we continue to collaborate for the sustainable development of the island.
As we continue to work on establishing a platform between both Governments of each side of the island, we recognize the need for such a political tool to allow us to further unify and solidify our collective actions. We must never forget as a people, with shared values and family ties, that WE ARE ONE, also sharing an economy, geo-location and so much more, which makes us in many ways codependent in seeking opportunities to achieve collective goals and ultimately prosperity for all in our society.
My vision remains to tackle our issues together as one island, setting aside the complexities of international relations- the French state and our position within the Dutch Kingdom – as well as local competencies and move towards the adaptation of the treaty to reflect the realities we face today. On our special day, I recommit, on behalf of the Government of St. Maarten, to continue to dialogue with our French counterparts, not just in times of adversity or shared celebrations but in our day-to-day living as we continue to seek solutions for our shared challenges.
I take this time to congratulate the people of French St. Martin on their decisions made in the first round of the territorial elections held last Sunday, and wish them much success in choosing the right team to lead them over the next five years in the second round. It is for this reason that we are not able to officially celebrate together as you remain in transition, however, I look forward to continued forward movement in collaborating with the newly elected government once it has been established.
On behalf of the Council of Ministers, I hereby congratulate the people of St. Martin, 37 square miles strong, on 374 years of peaceful living, working and sharing this paradise, and pray for many more decades of peace and collaboration to come.