October 10, 2019 marks the 9th year of country status and the representation of Sint Maarten in the Kingdom Council of Ministers here in the Netherlands.
The presence of the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary in The Hague Netherlands took form in 2011. To not let this auspicious occasion go by unnoticed, Minister Plenipotentiary Jorien Wuite, Deputy Minister Somersall and staff have chosen to commemorate this day in the presence of the first Minister Plenipotentiary, Mathias Voges, Margie van Gijn, the first secretary of the Cabinet and Van de Sluijs Plantz the Sint Maarten Representative in the Council of State.
At 12.00 local time in the Netherlands, the flag was officially hoisted for the first time on the newly acquired Flag poles at the location of the Cabinet on the Prinsessegracht # 7 in the Hague, where the flags will remain hoisted 24 hours a day from now on moving forward as they are permanently lit.
During the commemoration at the Cabinet, Voges reflected and highlighted on the challenges at the start of the Cabinet which at the time was comprised of two persons.
Over the years the team has now grown to eight staff members supporting and carrying out duties under the leadership of both the Minister and Deputy Plenipotentiary.
Through the years, the Cabinet has welcomed and supported Ministers and deputies in carrying out their duties, all in accordance with the then applicable governing programs given out by the then sitting governments.
At all times remaining true to the call to represent and promote the causes of Sint Maarten and the Sint Maarten Diaspora in the Netherlands.
Today, nine years later, the call to work even harder in benefit of the reconstruction of Sint Maarten after the devastation brought about by hurricanes Irma and Maria, has been the catalyst for an even stronger approach to seek collaboration in many areas.
Ranging from economic, cultural, educational, capacity building and European development funding, efforts in collaboration with the Ministries on Sint Maarten and in the Netherlands are being made to facilitate and accelerate the reconstruction process on Sint Maarten. All of these efforts are now being carried out in accordance to an action program of the Cabinet for 2018- 2020.
Over the years many projects and activities have been carried out by the Cabinet to localize, recognize, involve and assist Sint Maarteners residing in the Netherlands.
A few examples to date are the recognition of outstanding and exemplary persons in the community, who in one way or the other have or are contributing to society here in the Netherlands.
Others are scholars and entrepreneurs who are placing Sint Maarten on the map by working tirelessly to ensure that the island receives and achieves recognition on the highest levels.
Just one year ago, the Cabinet launched the @theCabinet after5 gatherings where young professionals of Sint Maarten decent are given the opportunity to make presentations to their peers in their areas of specialty, which ranges from technical to economic and development related subjects.
Another initiative recently resulted in the formation of the 721 Platform where organizations based in the Netherlands and institutions on Sint Maarten have joined forces to seek out and execute projects in the interest of Sint Maarten.
Minister Wuite mentioned that the Cabinet reflected on the progress and challenges of country status against the backdrop of developments on St. Maarten and the handling of the 2020 budget debate for Kingdom Relations in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament.
“Many members of parliament made use of the metaphor of ‘The family’ to give context and define the relations with the islands. While I consider some family definitions and reflections more fitting and attractive than others, we observe that after almost 10 years, a call for evaluation and adaptation of the Statute echoes within the chambers.
“I believe firmly in our country and recognize that joint approaches and collaboration are of paramount importance. As we reflect on our progress and trials & tribulations as a democratic society, I am of the opinion that our norms, values and principles as the basis of our parliamentary democracy, require reflection and renewal.
“The only way is forward and this small, yet committed, Cabinet is also in a supportive position to represent Sint Maarten in The Hague, The Netherlands and Europe. I am sure more can be done in the years ahead if we heal together from the impacts of Irma and are able to transform from tendencies with inward fights to journeys where we together can tackle big issues such as our climate risks, regional social-economic collaborations, innovations and good governance within a desired constitutional arrangement”.
The Deputy Minister Somersall also highlighted his take on the ninth anniversary of country status and believes that “It is a privilege and honor to be celebrating our constitution day. It really is. Today is extra special because we have Mr. Voges the first Minister Plenipotentiary here to commemorate and celebrate this day with us.
“The 10th of October 2010 will always be very important and a historical day for all us. It is the reason why we have a Sint Maarten House and we are gathered here today. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
“I am sure that many people were fearful and said, we weren’t ready for 10-10-10. I am also sure that there were many who had faith that said that we were ready for 10-10-10. It is not important for me to say who was right or wrong. I for one are happy that as a country we took that leap of faith and give it a try.
“Some people don’t realize that the country is only 9 years old and we have a long way to go. We will however keep on building up the place we are all proud of to call our home. So, let us lift our eyes beyond our challenges of today, to the hopes of tomorrow”.