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Marriage problems of the Kingdom focus of debate

AMSTERDAM--A forced marriage, a marriage of convenience, a one-parent family or a combined family with children of different fathers: These were some of the terms used to describe the difficult aspects of the relations within the Dutch Kingdom during a debate on Friday.

The debate, which was organised by InterExpo and producer/debate leader Tanja Fraai as the last event of the 20th Trade Mission in Amsterdam, served to evaluate the new constitutional relations that went into effect on October 10, 2010.

Representatives of the governments and private sector of the Dutch Caribbean took part in the debate, as did Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party and host of the debate Chairman of the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations Jeroen Recourt, the only Dutch politicians who were present.

Recourt painted a picture wherein the countries in the Kingdom are having relational issues and challenged the audience to give their view. Bosman described the relations as a forced marriage in which partners are trying to make the best of it. This kind of relationship requires strict agreements to which the partners have to stick, he said.

President of the Aruba Parliament Marisol Lopez-Tromp spoke of a combined family. “Partners are divorced and have remarried. There are discussions about alimony and visiting arrangements. The partner who pays assumes that by doing so the visiting arrangement is automatically secured. But that isn’t always the case,” she said.  

Saba student and member of the Kingdom Youth Parliament Nataly Linzey portrayed a marriage wherein partners have separated and the children have to choose whether they want to live with their mother or father.

Curaçao lawyer Karel Frielink used the term one-parent family, with the Netherlands as parent and the Dutch Caribbean islands as children.

Chamber of Commerce of St. Eustatius and Saba Vice-President Wolfgang Tooten said: “The Netherlands is a country of many rules, but in Saba we need less red tape. If this were my marriage, my wife would have filed for divorce if I had introduced all these rules.”

Chamber of Commerce of St. Eustatius and Saba President Koos Sneek said he hoped the current marriage of convenience between St. Eustatius and the Netherlands would become a marriage based on love. “I give the relation a 5.5, but I don’t want to divorce. It is a fact that St. Eustatius didn’t choose for this relation as a public entity.”

Sneek also said the Netherlands was co-responsible for the political instability in St. Eustatius. He said the political parties at the time had been blamed for the Dutch measures such as the implementation of the new tax system, as a result of which there are now five political parties.

Director of the Cabinet of the St. Maarten Minister Plenipotentiary in The Hague Perry Geerlings was critical of the Dutch Government’s attitude, which he said lacked comprehension and knowledge of the islands. “If we are welcome in the Kingdom, it doesn’t show it,” he said.

According to Geerlings, the Netherlands pretended to know all, but in fact didn’t do so well in managing the Caribbean Netherlands islands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

“Five years ago a Dutch politician told me he found it astonishing that St. Maarten was not able to manage a little rock in the sea. I recently met this same man and asked him how things were going with Saba. We are accused that we are unable to manage a rock in the sea, but the Netherlands also is not able to manage Saba or St. Eustatius,” he said.

Bonaire Island Governor Edison Rijna agreed that Dutch civil servants too often were seeing things from a Dutch perspective in their dealings with the islands and did not listen enough to local government representatives and experts on the islands.

Reflecting on the two-hour discussion, Recourt concluded that that there was little trust and comprehension within the Kingdom, but that a divorce was not happening for now.

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