First Vice-President of the Collectivité Valérie Damaseau.
MARIGOT--First Vice President of the Collectivité Valérie Damaseau, in her address for the 372nd anniversary of the Treaty of Concordia, echoed President Daniel Gibbs’ desire to have a United Congress French and Dutch, calling it a “must” for the island, given the challenges both sides face.
“When reality changes, the ways in which we handle those issues must also change,” she said. “This uniqueness so rare cannot continue to be governed issue by issue. Rethinking our coexistence is a must – time is of the essence.”
She said that “bond” has been put to the test, especially these last three years when numerous challenges indirectly relied on the strength and moral values of the people, adding that application of laws exposes difficulties and hampers the cross-border relationship.
“We so often repeat that the gale and plagues do not stop at the border, but let us take a minute and realise how these challenges go unnoticed in the everyday lives of our people.
“We need to reactivate the importance of this day and revive in every one of us a reality that holds within itself the singularity and the challenges, reality that we as people of St. Martin are confronted with politically, administratively, economically, socially and culturally every day.
“As the late Daniella Jeffry once said, and I quote: ‘A unique island requires a unique governance.’
“On this special day, I acknowledge that yes, we were able to live like this for 372 years. But I also acknowledge that it is time to put in place a wide-based governance that will put a body in charge of cooperation between [French – Ed.] St. Martin and [Dutch] St. Maarten, that will make joint management and finding of joint solutions to common issues possible and seal it with a renewal of the 1648 Treaty of Concordia agreement, keeping in mind that we are one island, one people.”
She reminded that the Treaty of Concordia was a formal arrangement that was primarily a friendly one, an alliance between two communities that determined the common rules for a joint use of the goods on the island.
“Thanks to the people, we continue to live in harmony with open, free borders.
This long-standing division has never impaired the peaceful living of the French and Dutch communities. We simply continue to be our brother’s keeper.
“In my capacity as First Vice-President of the Territorial Council of St. Martin in charge of Culture, it is my duty to remind you that in the midst of challenges we are facing today, we must not forget the importance of this day of celebration which defines us as a people.
“It is our job to keep this tradition alive. Nobody understands we but we. Nobody feels the reality of this territory like we do. Ask yourself: What is a country without its identity? We are in charge of our destiny. Long live the Treaty of Concordia.”