Tuesday, Jul 23rd

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Editorial - Encouraging words

Wednesday's headline "Kingdom Conference fails to agree on dispute regulation" might have led some to conclude the encounter between the Netherlands, St. Maarten, Curaçao and Aruba was unsuccessful, but that's not necessarily the case. After all, agreements were reached on other important issues such as child rights, cohesion in the kingdom, health care and economic cooperation.

Granted, a dispute resolution arrangement topped the list of priorities at the meeting certainly for the Gumbs cabinet, but also was the most challenging topic on the agenda. The format for and body to execute such still remain points of contention (see related story), but it was agreed that the four governments would have another consultation on the matter three months from now to arrive at a proposal within a year that hopefully can be handled at the next Kingdom Conference scheduled in St. Maarten for April 2016.

The Dutch Government suggested a temporary provision in the meantime with the Council of State, which the other kingdom partners rejected. It also must be said that last month's Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultation IPKO requested that the dispute regulation be limited to interpretation of the Kingdom Charter for now, which means it might not cover, for example, the much-debated recent instructions to the governors of St. Maarten and Aruba.

So lots of work obviously is still needed on the desired arrangement and it's probably indeed best to get it right from the start. Prime Minister Gumbs even cited the Papiamentu saying "Sòpi purá ta sali salu" (Haste makes waste) to illustrate that a lasting solution was the preferred way to go, rather than a quick fix that could be regretted later on.

In retrospect, perhaps the most significant aspect of the one-day gathering is that it was said to have contributed to more understanding and appreciation for each other's views at a time when the kingdom ties were under considerable strain due to several controversial developments in the last few years. Words like "the gap has been bridged" and "solidarity was shown" in any case sound encouraging.