Opinion: No respect

POSTED: 07/24/13 1:05 PM

Mark Rutte did not go as far as Hero brinkman when he said after his first visit as prime minister to the Antilles that the former colonies in Caribbean Netherlands could step out of the kingdom at any moment. “You give me a call and we’ll arrange it,” were his lukewarm words. Teun Lagas analyzed the situation in Trouw yesterday.

“Rutte did keep an eye on the agreements the United Nations established in international law about the relation between a former motherland and a former colony. Former PVV parliamentarian Hero Brinkman did not do that when he said in 2008 during a visit of parliamentarians to Curacao that the best thing the Netherlands could do was attempt to sell the pirate’s nest Antilles on Marktplaats.nl. “No respect,” Prime Minister Balkenende said at the time.

Rutte did a better job last week by taking into account that it can never be a unilateral choice of the Netherlands to severe the ties with the Antilles. In the Kingdom Charter that describes the relation, according to the rules of the United Nations, it says clearly that only the islands can take the initiative to step out of the kingdom after a referendum among the local population.

Some politicians in the Hague experience Rutte’s invitation “just give me a call” as blunt and rude. The prime minister’s attitude irritates D66 and GreenLeft enormously, because it could easily be interpreted as a hint to the islands that The Hague strongly favors a divorce. D66-leader Alexander Pechtold, who was in 2005 as minister responsible for the overseas-relations, says that the Rutte’s statement is “incredibly wrong.” This way you confirm the blunt Dutch attitude they know so well in the Antilles, he says.

You call and we help you leave is as far as the critics is concerned a premature and improper battle cry in the always sensitive consultation between the Netherlands and the Antilles. Only three years ago, contracts were signed for new relations. The old Netherlands Antilles ceased to exist on October 10, 2010. Curacao, Aruba and St. Maarten became separate countries, but they remained within the kingdom. (Aruba obtained its status aparte of course much earlier, on January 1, 1986 – ed.).

In the Kingdom Charter, human rights are guaranteed and it says that The Hague continues to provide assistance with foreign policy, defense and justice. One last time a couple of billion for debt relief crossed the ocean. Bonaire, Saba and Statia became a sort of Dutch municipalities.

Those agreements about the new relations are still fresh and fragile. And even if a phone call from Curacao, Aruba or St. Maarten would arrive, the road to a divorce is much lengthier and complicated than Rutte is now suggesting. For instance because not only the Netherlands, but all islands in the kingdom have to agree, before the king is able to put his signature under a seceding-law.

The PVV will warmly support Rutte’s invitation. His own VVD silently approves and coalition partner PvdA remains silent about the statement. PvdA-MP Van Dam took the same road as Rutte last fall with his statement: “If independence is the wish of Curacao we are prepared to cooperate.”

Apart from the less than diplomatic attitude towards the islands, Rutte was not very careful towards Washington either. The United States would not exactly start celebrating when just off the coast of Venezuela an island with a lot of drugs criminality becomes independent and the Netherlands no longer assists with maintaining the constitutional state in Curacao.”

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Comments (1)


  1. Renee D'Antilya says:

    After centuries of plundering whatever natural resources the former Netherlands Antilles had, Holland is willing to grant
    full independence to the Dutch Caribbean. How gracious of
    them. Perhaps if the Dutch West India Company hadn’t forcibly brought men and women to these islands to be
    sold as slaves (cheapest labor), they would have a moral leg to stand on. As it is, whatever malfeasance we, as the progeny of former slaves, have adopted, we learned at the feet of the Master.