Dutch municipalities seek lenience for BES islands

LEEUWARDEN--The Association of Dutch Municipalities VNG last week adopted a motion that called on the Dutch government to assume a reserved position when it comes to enforcing new legislation and demands on the BES islands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

The motion, submitted by the Municipality of Vlaardingen during VNG's general membership meeting in Leeuwarden on June 8, also called on VNG's board to continue efforts to strengthen the position of the BES islands and to ensure sustainable cooperation.

Vlaardingen Mayor Tjerk Bruinsma said the motion intended to continue VNG's policy for the islands and push for maximum effort by both VNG and the Dutch Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK.

The motion called on The Hague to provide "policy tranquillity" to the BES islands when they become part of the Netherlands as "public entities" on October 10, 2010, so the islands can give content to their new status.

The motion further called on the Dutch government to give space to the new public entities so they could work on their capacities in government within their own vision and culture. It further asked the Dutch government to make available the necessary financial means for the BES islands after October 10, 2010.

VNG's board was asked to welcome the new public entities into the Netherlands, to congratulate the new countries Curaçao and St. Maarten with their new status as countries within the Dutch Kingdom, and to continue providing service and a platform function and serving the interest of its overseas members.

VNG has intensified its ties with overseas members – the islands of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba – since 2004. There have been more than 150 exchange activities during the period 2004-2010, at the request of the overseas members and in close cooperation with VNG members in the Netherlands.

These activities were geared towards strengthening the governments on the islands, with the involvement of the Lt. Governors, members of the Island Councils, Commissioners, civil servants and their Dutch colleagues.

The position of the overseas countries within VNG has been fortified. VNG launched an Antilles Platform a few years ago to further develop and deploy knowledge on the islands within the organisation. Chairman of that platform is Mayor Bruinsma.

The motion was generally adopted during the general membership meeting that took place during VNG's annual congress in Leeuwarden. The Lt. Governors of the five islands attended the congress and also participated in a meeting of the Antilles Platform.

The motion can be interpreted as a hint towards the Dutch government, with the decision of the Dutch Parliament's Second Chamber to implement same-sex marriage and legalise abortion and euthanasia on the BES islands, and also to research homosexual emancipation in the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.

14 June 2010

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