Call to boycott EU elections “Make sure the voice of St. Martin is well heard”

POSTED: 05/23/14 8:59 PM

MARIGOT—The population of St. Martin is asked to vote blank in the upcoming European Union elections slated for May 24. According to the former president of the Collectivité, Alain Richardson, this election gives the population an opportunity to express their opinion with regard to the way they are being treated by France and have their voices be heard.

“Our vote must therefore be oriented primarily if not exclusively in favor of St. Martin’s own interest in its relations with Europe,” said Richardson. He pointed out that St. Martin remains an Ultra Peripheral Territory (UPT) of Europe not because they are the only UPT which is not an integral part of the European customs territory, or the most European that is situated westerly in the Atlantic, or because the only territory with a multi-currency economy, using both the Euro and the US dollar.

He said that St. Martin is the only one of the outermost regions of Europe where its home country France denies the legitimate right to have its own specific and full-fledged operational program for the funding period 2014-2020 with the corresponding funds. This he said is the genuine need in relation to the setbacks such as handicaps and infrastructural deficit which is based on the evaluation criteria of the European Union.

“We remain the only one for whom its home country (France) refuses to make the request and initiate the steps that would lead up to it obtaining its own NUTS-2 code (NUTS code (nomenclature of territorial units for statistics) is a territorial division to facilitate comparisons and assessments between territories; this code also permits the evaluation of the volume of European development funds which each territory could claim,” said Richardson

He noted that the refusal of France to grant to St-Martin its own 2014-2020 full-fledged operational program is totally unjustified and unjustifiable. The same goes for the refusal since our status change (from a Commune to an Autonomous Territory) in 2007. “To request a NUTS code for St-Martin, whereas all the other home countries of the EU have done it for their dependencies that are much smaller than us. Spain for its enclaves of Ceuta and Melila; Finland for the Åland Islands,” he said.

He continued: “While our territory is being heavily penalized by the application of regulations and many European norms and standards, a real political will on the behalf of France to present, argue and defend at the level of the European authorities, our reality, our “habits and customs,” our particularities and the heavy handicaps that a blind application of all these regulations create, would have allowed us to obtain the necessary adjustments, adaptations and facilities.”

It is clear, he said, therefore that vis-a-vis of Europe, our difficulties and lack of financial support at the level of what we could legitimately claim, have for sole causes the negligence and the sacrifice of St. Martin by France in favor of other French outermost regions that have greater lobbying power and that represent more political and electoral weight. France in so many areas continues to sacrifice St. Martin in its rights and opportunities within Europe.

“As long as we remain integrated in Europe, we have no other choice but to continue our battle for Europe to hear more and better our voice. Even this reality, the European elections of May 24th are one of the rare opportunities for St-Martin to attract the attention of the European institutions, to make its voice heard and to assert its own interests.

This is essential to change our way of thinking and to move away completely from the classic Franco-French political games and mimics and to release the strings attached through memberships and affiliations to national political parties such as the PS, UMP and the FN.  “St. Martin has not gained anything in the past and has nothing to expect by simply being a follower and accepting to be simply a reservoir of extra votes,” Richardson was quoted as saying.

“Conscious, that these kind of elections do not mobilize nor really interest the St-Martin electorate, conscious as well that both in France and in Europe, blank votes are now officially recognized and are counted as a means of expression and a civic act. This tool (the blank vote) represents a way for St. Martin to make its voice heard and to draw attention to its problems. The blank vote may therefore be a way to sound the alarm.”

It would therefore be wise for St-Martin voters who decide to go to the polls this Saturday, May 24, to use this new tool and means of expression that is the blank vote. To actually use this tool of civic expression but with long political reach, just deposit in the ballot box either the empty voting envelop or the voting envelop in which you would have slipped in a white bulletin (white paper).

The territory with the status of outermost region (RUP) must only be a passage or a stage; because the interests and sustainable development are based on the attractiveness and competitiveness of the territory are not secured remaining an outermost region of Europe. “Pending this change, we must work to make sure the voice of St. Martin is well heard, by casting a blank vote on Saturday May 24,”concluded Richardson.



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