Netherlands Antilles to be abolished
28 April 2005, AMSTERDAM — The union of five Caribbean islands is to cease to exist by 2007, an inter-island constitutional summit has decided.
28 April 2005
AMSTERDAM — The union of five Caribbean islands is to cease to exist by 2007, an inter-island constitutional summit has decided.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of three constituent parts: the mainland European Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. Suriname left the kingdom in 1975.
The delegation from Sint Eustatius refused to sign the final document and staged a walk out from the meeting to decide the future of the Antilles.
The two-day conference was hosted by Sint Maarten, the Dutch portion of the island shared with the French-controlled Saint Martin.
Earlier this month, the island's 2,400-strong population voted in a referendum to preserve the Netherlands Antilles.
The delegations from Curacao (192,000), Sint Maarten (35,000), Bonaire (18,000) and Saba (1,500) agreed that Curacao and Sint Maarten will be granted a status aparte, home rule, by 2007. Bonaire and Saba will become koninkrijkseilanden, or royal islands.
The public on each of the four islands opted for these structures in recent referendums.
There has been general unhappiness about the way the Netherlands Antilles has functioned for several years. Each island has its own administration, while the Antillean government is based on Curacao. The Netherlands is responsible for defence and foreign relations.
Despite the fact the conference has concluded, key issues are yet to be resolved by agreement between all parts of the kingdom. It remains unclear for instance what the status of royal island entails.
The leader of Saba's delegation, Will Johnson, said he hoped his island would be granted as much autonomy as it currently has, with the Netherlands assuming the role and responsibility exercised by the Antillean government.
In this way, Saba would fall under the healthcare system in operation in the Netherlands.
The representatives of the four islands which agreed to abolish the Antilles aim to establish a commission and workgroups by 15 May to work out the new constitutional arrangements.
Bonaire and Saba said that the details of their new status should be discussed with The Hague by June at the latest.
By October, the delegates hope to have talks with the Netherlands and Aruba to finalise an agreement. It is expected that Sint Eustatius will agree to take part.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news