~ Consensus reigns at IPKO ~
THE HAGUE/ORANJESTAD–The Parliaments of Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten and the Netherlands closed off a very successful Inter-Parliamentary Consultation of the Kingdom IPKO in Aruba on Friday.
Consensus was reached on several topics, including establishing of a dispute arrangement “geschillenregeling” for the Kingdom, the broadening of the request for advice of the Council of State on applying of Regulation of the Governor by the Kingdom Council of Ministers, use of Dutch study financing in the Caribbean region and repayment of study debts in local currencies of Dutch Caribbean countries.
All delegation leaders were highly positive about the level of talks in Aruba this week and the willingness to cooperate and to find solutions for pressing matters in the Kingdom. “The talks were open, honest, with respect for each other’s position. We discussed on the contents and we didn’t run away from the difficult issues,” said President of Aruba Parliament Marisol Lopes-Tromp, who chaired the IPKO.
President of St. Maarten Parliament Dr. Lloyd Richardson said his delegation had “good news” to take home where he said the situation was “instable” with a new government having just been appointed. “We hope to solve that soon and we hope that in the next IPKO we can again contribute to important issues like green energy and a ferry connection between the Windward Islands,” he said at Friday’s press conference, where the chairpersons of the four Parliaments signed the agreement list.
Richardson said that he was very glad that the St. Maarten delegation had been able to contribute to IPKO, even though it wasn’t able to do so 100 per cent. He described the atmosphere at IPKO as very positive. “We all behaved ourselves well and that deserves an applause,” he said.
Richardson, as well as the other chairpersons of the Parliaments and of the Permanent Committees for Kingdom Relations, gladly announced that consensus was reached on the necessity to establish a dispute arrangement where the countries of the Kingdom could take their grievances and objections to decisions taken by the Kingdom Council of Ministers. “We came out with flying colours,” said Richardson.
Delegations talked about the dispute arrangement for several hours on Thursday. A working visit was even cancelled because the drive to reach a consensus on the dispute arrangement was deemed more important, said President of the Curaçao Parliament Mike Franco. He said that “great strides” had been made.
The Parliaments agreed that an independent body would be in charge of handling possible disputes among the countries. It was also agreed that there would be a mediation trajectory whereby the countries would first try to solve the conflict among themselves before utilising the dispute arrangement.
“After many years of fighting each other, we decided that we will walk together to resolve issues among ourselves first,” said Chairman of the Permanent Committee for Kingdom Affairs and Inter-Parliamentary Relations of the Curaçao Parliament Elmer “Kadè” Wilsoe.
However, no consensus was reached on the exact set-up of this body and the representation of the countries in it. The delegations also could not find common ground on the range of the dispute arrangement, which type of disputes the independent body would be able to judge, and whether the rulings would be binding or not.
It was agreed that the specifics on which no agreement was reached during IPKO would be referred to the governments of the Kingdom. Chairman of the Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations of Aruba Parliament Rene Herdé explained that governments of the four countries will handle the dispute arrangement at the next Kingdom Conference in Curaçao in April.
Herdé announced that Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk had started the process, together with the Dutch Caribbean governments, to appoint a committee that will work out the details of a dispute arrangement. The findings of this committee will be discussed at the Kingdom Conference, after which the topic would return at the next IPKO gathering in late May. “We are not all set on this matter, but we took big steps,” said Herdé.
“We can look back at a very successful IPKO,” said Chairman of the delegation of the First and Second Chamber of Dutch Parliament Jeroen Recourt. He said that all agenda points had been discussed. “We continued on the track that we started some two years ago. I am proud of the cooperation in the Kingdom despite the difficult times that we faced last year,” he said.
Herdé said the expectations of the IPKO were high because of frictions in the Kingdom in the recent past. “The issues were difficult, sensitive, such as integrity, the screening of candidate ministers, the use of the Regulation of the Governor and the dispute arrangement. We were a bit anxious beforehand, but I am proud of the results. We were able to clarify a lot of issues,” he said.