Clear deadline

Clear deadline

The Kingdom Council of Ministers in the Netherlands agreed to extend the current 2020 collaboration treaty with France regarding the legal position of defence personnel and government officials on each other’s territory in St. Maarten/St. Martin (see related story). That it had been allowed to expire per August 6 is regrettable considering the significance to both sides of the island, although perhaps understandable due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The intention is to prolong it retroactively, but only until a new one that applies to the entire Dutch Caribbean can be implemented. The latter raises questions.

The proposed expanded version to be sent to the Council of State has to do with the status of military of the two European nations operating in the French and Dutch Antilles as well as South America. It should be seen as part of regional defence cooperation efforts.

Authorities in Philipsburg and Marigot would do well to follow this matter closely because essential issues like the mutual use of harbours, territorial waters, airports and aeronautical space are all involved. If the new treaty is not in effect by August 6, 2023, the one being prolonged will end, making that a clear deadline.