St. Maarten Day celebration – Leaders focus on cooperation

POSTED: 11/12/12 1:34 PM

FRENCH QUARTER—The St. Maarten Day celebrations hosted by the Collectivité of St. Martin began with an ecumenical church service at the Methodist Church in French Quarter yesterday. Following the wreath laying ceremonies at the border monument in Belle Plaine / Belvedere and the parade by the uniformed services, the official speeches were held at the Belle Plaine Village.

President of the Collectivité Alain Richardson spoke of the partnership that has existed over the years and mentioned that the theme for this year celebration “Respecting the past, investing in the future” means that there is need to accept and value all of the history. He noted that Armistice Day during a ceremony in the gardens of the Collectivité when 17 names of St. Martin soldiers were read made him reflect on “the spirit of greatness and sacrifice which is part of our heritage.”

“Although the ceremonies paid tribute to these sons of the soil who risked their lives on battlegrounds and places that St. Martiners had not heard of it spoke of the courage of these men that left St. Martin, a tiny island in the Caribbean with the conviction that it was necessary to enter into a conflict to defend ideas that they believed were right,” said Richardson.  “These ideals of freedom, the ability to decide for oneself, the right to choose how to live and the right to protect your homeland and independence, from a monstrous system that believed it was right to impose its will on the world.”

These attributes, he said, are an integral part of our heritage and called on the people and especially the youth “to never close the book” on the sacrifices that were made by these St. Martiners.

Both sides of the island went through constitutional changes, “but these are no beds of roses, yet these are parts that we have to tread if we want to take our future in our hands.” He called on all St. Martiners to better understand their part so that they are able to withstand the difficulties of the present to better invest in the future.

Richardson called for what he described as “a real inter-dependent partnership in the interest of the greater good of St. Martin and even though the government has only been months in office they were able to work with Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and the Council of Ministers to deal with a number of issues.” Among these is the issue of the driver’s license which was done through Préfet Philippe Chopin, the Minister of Justice Roland Duncan and the Public Prosecutor.

Richardson spoke of the detail study on financing for the flow of the run-off water in the Dutch Quarter/ Belle Plaine area which should be looked at by the representatives of the European Union for joint financing.  There is also the issue of an emergency water supply in the Oyster Pond area which is being discussed between Vice President Guillaume Arnel, Deputy Prime Minister William Marlin and representatives of GEBE on the connection of both networks.

All of these discussions are in process so that they are able to move into what was described as the real partnership and indicated that celebrating friendship is important. He said that the world is not the same which make our tradition important and since “we are at a crossroad the world would not wait on St. Martin/St. Maarten and as a people it is necessary that we take up the challenges.

Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams spoke of the cooperation between both sides of the island which has been strengthened with the cooperation of the state. She noted that with the involvement of the Préfet they are able to move that tri-partite understanding forward.

With regard to the significance of St. Martin’s Day, she stressed that if elected representatives do not have any official speeches on cooperation, there will be something to fear. She reaffirmed her commitment to cooperation between the two governments and called on the leaders of the island to further that cooperation and unity.

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