Published On: Thu, Jul 6th, 2017

Plasterk: “Statia’s wish to become autonomous country not realistic’

PlasterkTHE HAGUE - According to the Island Government of St. Eustatius, the Dutch Government is acting in contravention of the United Nations (UN) Charter and several General Assembly resolutions pertaining to the island’s constitutional status.

In a letter sent to the Executive Council on Wednesday, caretaker Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk responded by saying that the Council would not be surprised to learn that he does not share its interpretation of the UN Charter and resolutions, where it pertains to the right of self-determination and autonomy. He also said that Statia’s desire to become an autonomous country within the Kingdom is “not realistic.”

“St. Eustatius currently holds the status of a public entity within the Netherlands. During talks with the UN it has been confirmed that Kingdom relations are an internal matter. Mutual discussions can be held without the interference of the United Nations. In changing the Kingdom Charter the requirements of the UN Charter were taken into account,” Minister Plasterk said in his letter.

He also pointed out that the Executive Council, during the final Round Table Conference of September 9, 2010, had accepted the new status of a public entity, citing realism, and several consecutive election victories.

“With the constitutional change of October 10, 2010, St. Eustatius became part of the Dutch form of government. In consultation with the Netherlands Antilles and the Island Governments legislation was drafted for Bonaire, Statia and Saba, for instance the law on the Public Entities WolBES,” Minister Plasterk explained.

In referring to the UN Charter, several UN resolutions and a Dutch High Court ruling pertaining to Dutch troops operating under UN mandate in Srebrenica during the Yugoslav War, Statia’s Government claims any form of Dutch Government supervision is in violation of UN standards.

Statia wants to get rid of its public-entity status and seeks a more autonomous position in the Kingdom, not unlike the current statuses of St. Maarten and Curaçao. Changing the island’s status would require permission of the other Kingdom partners. “A unilateral decision cannot lead to this,” Plasterk stated.

As the Minister already pointed out in a letter of May 12, an alternative would actually boil down to the status of a more or less autonomous country within the Kingdom, under which there would no longer be room for budgetary support. In that case, the island must be financially self-reliant.

“Considering Statia’s small scale and the current state of government of the public entity, the status of an autonomous country within the Kingdom is not realistic,” Plasterk wrote.

In response to a motion adopted by the Island Council on May 9 concerning WolBES and the financial law FinBES, the Minister said all Kingdom laws and regulations apply in full to St. Eustatius, and need to be complied with.

In his letter, Minister Plasterk also referred to the Committee of Wise Men, which will be starting its work on Statia next week Thursday. The Committee, at this moment consisting of two Dutch Government-appointed members, is to investigate the operations of the public entity of St. Eustatius. The Committee will also make recommendations on how to achieve a qualitatively sufficiently functioning public entity.

As stated earlier, Plasterk said he does not see the Executive Council’s desire to speak about more autonomy separately from the Wise Men’s work. A final report by the Committee is expected in September.

The Daily Herald

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