ORANJESTAD -On their recent working visit to Aruba, Prime Minister of St. Maarten, the Honourable Mr. William Marlin, the Minister Plenipotentiary, Mrs. Henrietta Doran-York, the Secretary General of the Ministry of General Affairs, Mr. Hensley Plantijn, and the rest of the St. Maarten delegation attended the 15th Overseas Countries and Territories Association, OCTA, Ministerial Conference. The Ministerial Conference is OCTA’s highest body. The objective of the conference was to define policies, approve the 2017 budget and elect the Chair of the Ministerial Conference as well as members and the President of the Executive Committee.
During the Conference OCT leaders were given the opportunity to discuss various topics affecting OCTs such as the post 2020 EU-OCT relationship, the OCTA Secretariat and the Institutional strengthening of the Association. Prime Minister Marlin signed the Joint Position for the post 2020 period on behalf of Sint Maarten. This position paper was signed by all OCTs with the exception to Curacao and co-signed by the member states of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, The Kingdom of Denmark, the French Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. By signing this joint position the signatories agree upon 10 guiding principles of moving forward in establishing the post 2020 relationship.
Other noteworthy aspects of the 15th Ministerial Conference included the election of the new OCTA Chair, the Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Honourable Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, and the OCTA Vice Chair, the President of French Polynesia, the Honourable Édouard Fritch and the election of the Executive Committee of OCTA.
Ms. Carol Voges on behalf of Sint Maarten was elected as the President of the Executive Committee for 2017. The remaining members include New Caledonia, Curacao, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, St. Helena, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, French Polynesia and Greenland. The positions of Treasurer and Secretary will be defined during the first meeting of the Executive Committee in early March. The Audit Committee consisting of Cayman Islands, Aruba and British Virgin Islands as its members was also selected during this meeting.
The Ministerial Conference was also updated on the status of various EU funded programmes, such as, the BEST initiative, the 11th EDF Thematic, Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean Regional Programmes, where Sint Maarten as the Regional Authorizing Officer for the 11th EDF Caribbean Regional Programme gave an update on the state of play and upcoming actions for the programme.
Finally, the Political Declarations and Administrative Resolutions were finalized and signed by the Heads of OCTs for presentation to the EU Commission during the OCT-EU Forum held on February 24th,2017.