THE HAGUE–Dutch caretaker Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Liesbeth Spies is not in favour of appointing a liaison for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba because it would have no added value. The Minister stated this in a letter to the Second Chamber on Thursday in response to questions posed by Members of Parliament (MPs) Wassila Hachchi of the democratic D66 party and Ineke van Gent of the green left party GroenLinks.
Hachchi and Van Gent sought clarity from the Minister in early June following reports in the media about continued feelings of discontent in Bonaire, but also in St. Eustatius and Saba, be it to a lesser extent.
Spies acknowledged that on all three islands there were feelings of discontent among certain groups. “At the same time, important improvements have been realised on the islands in comparison to the period efore October 10, 2010,” she stated, referring to the situation within the Netherlands Antilles.
According to the Minister, residents of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba have the same democratic rights as residents of the European part of The Netherlands.“In that sense, they are just as powerful,” she stated.
The islands should not feel neglected by The Hague because there is sufficient representation, communication and cooperation, implied Spies. Almost all Dutch ministries are represented on the islands in the form of policy workers and/ or executing services. The ministries’ representatives provide all information to the island governments. The Minister explained that the Executive Councils and Island Councils are regularly in The Netherlands for meetings with the various ministries, the Second Chamber and other organisations. The Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK organises a so-called Caribbean Netherlands week in The Hague twice per year. During this week members of the Executive Councils visit the various ministries and have an administrative consultation with the Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations about financial issues. Spies said that she also visited the islands on a regular basis. She has frequent contact with the islands via video conferences and so do the ministries in The Hague. “Therefore, I am not of the opinion that the islands would not be able to get sufficient information.” A liaison of the island governments in The Hague does not have an added value, according to Spies.
Political representatives especially from Bonaire, but also from St. Eustatius and Saba, have indicated that they want to have their own ‘eyes and ears’ in The Hague. But Spies is not in favour. She argued that besides the contact with the ministries, the Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations, the islands are a member of the Association of Dutch Municipalities VNG and they make use of the National Government Representative (Rijksvertegenwoordiger).