Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin calls for pragmatic solutions in working with the French Government

PARIS, FRANCE – Relations between both sides of the island have warmed with the signing of the Joint Declaration between the Governments of the French Republic, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Sint Maarten, and the Collectivity of Saint-Martin at the recently concluded 4th Quadripartite Meeting in Paris.

In her address, Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin, made an appeal for innovative solutions to addressing the issues of mutual concern with the French Government. She highlighted progress made over the past few years including the ratification of the Police Cooperation Treaty, the signing of the Sea Demarcation Treaty, and the efforts being made in realizing a joint European Union project. Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin noted that despite these achievements, cooperation between the French and Dutch is often very abstract and causes stagnation.

Why this stagnation occurs and how to resolve these causes should now and always be the objective of this meeting “On a local level, cooperation between both sides works, it is when it comes to the mixed competencies that the Collectivity shares with the State, we see issues arise. State methodologies and regulations do not always align with the policies we have in place locally to deal with our unique bi-national situation. Therefore, solutions must take our local reality into consideration. Consequently, solutions must be innovative and work in the best interest of the people of our island.

The Prime Minister’s message was echoed in the address of the Minister of Justice Cornelius De Weever, who along with the Department of Foreign Relations and representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the Sint Maarten Police Force completed the Sint Maarten delegation in Paris. Minister of Justice de Weever proposed necessary changes to the Policy Cooperation Treaty, citing the need to apprehend criminals during cross-border police chases, so called hot pursuit. He also called for the full implementation of the Treaty including the execution of maritime hot pursuit.

Prime Minister Romeo Marlin stated that “Hurricane Irma ravaged both sides of our island and though the natural disaster and its effects are well known and documented, the consequences of not resolving issues of mutual concern including crisis protocols, only exacerbated the post-Hurricane Irma disaster. Governance and development in isolation of either side is no longer an option and cooperation without concrete action must stop”.

In that regard, the four parties reached an agreement on thirteen points that they will address and gave particular attention to ways in which to work to jump-starting reconstruction in areas of mutual interest including cleaning up of the Simpson Bay Lagoon and a Joint Emergency Plan. Moreover, long-term solutions to issues including double taxation, fraud, and Justice related matters (immigration, police cooperation, and judicial assistance) are to be addressed in meetings between both sides later this year.

In her closing, Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin stated how proud she was of the joint agreement signed by Mrs. Annick Girardin, Minister of the French Overseas Territories, Mr. Raymond Knops, State Secretary for Kingdom Relations, Mr. Daniel Gibbs, President of the Collectivité of Saint-Martin.

It is the first time that all four parties were able to agree to a plan of approach on the issues on the issues of mutual interest, some of which caused the cooling of the relationship between both sides back in 2016. “An agreement that is both workable and inclusive in its scope has been reached and will help to guide not only the reconstruction of our island but the manner in which both sides work going forward. I believe that the declaration is a means to bring about tangible solutions that will enhance the everyday life of our people”.