Dutch St. Maarten Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and President of the Collectivité Louis Mussington lay a wreath at the foot of the stele on Mont des Accords, assisted by Préfet Vincent Berton, during the ceremony for the 375th anniversary of the Treaty of Concordia. Looking on are St. Maarten Minister Rodolphe Samuel and (partly hidden) Governor Ajamu Baly, and Third Vice-President of the Collectivité Dominique Louisy.
ST. PETERS--Commemoration of the 375th anniversary of the Treaty of Concordia took place on the summit of Mont des Accords, St. Peters, on Thursday with government dignitaries from both sides of the island present. Speeches were mixed with cultural segments in keeping with the spirit of the treaty.
The Seventh Day Adventist Choir gave an interpretation of the “Unity Song.”
While one treaty was being celebrated, a new treaty, the long-awaited border treaty, is due to be signed at some point this year. As Dutch St. Maarten Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs noted in her address, “We are on the eve of a new treaty signing, embarking on a journey of new opportunities for collaboration in service for the people.
Respective heads of the French and Dutch Culture Departments Claudine Lake (left) and Clara Reyes read out the articles of the Treaty of Concordia in French and English
Instead of two signatures as in 1648, the new treaty will have four signatures. The motivation of it is to advance the interests of St. Maarten. No new agreements can be made without us, the people. Technical and high-level consultations have taken place and continue to take place.
Melissa Fleming delivered a powerful poem “The art of the Unity Flag 1990 through poetry.”
“We are far advanced to finalise the agreement on the coordinates of the border and how we will cooperate on education, tourism, economic affairs, finance, security, health; how we respond to climate change, energy, environment, water, sanitation, etc. It only makes sense for us to collaborate on big issues and to tap into available funds together.”
Natisha Hanson interprets La Marseillaise accompanied by Laurent Chénier. Later, Hanson and Benjamin Bell sang “Saint-Martin is my home” to close off the official ceremon
Jacobs said the idea that borders create division must be rejected. “They can be treated as guidelines, but never as seeds for division.”
The theme for most of the speeches was cooperation and peaceful co-existence.
Dignitaries pose for the traditional group photograph at the end of the ceremony.
“Cooperation is needed to successfully prosper in terms of health, wealth and happiness, and for the people to thrive and flourish,” said St. Maarten Governor Ajamu Baly, noting how “tightly knit” the island community is.
“Our state of inter-dependence guides us to work for the common good. It is my hope we continue to act on the articles of the treaty for safety, security and social and economic aspects. Cooperation and peaceful co-existence should not be just for times of prosperity, but also in times of trials and tribulations. It should never be taken for granted.
“The spirit of the treaty should be etched into our minds and hearts, not just at a once-a-year commemoration but every day in honour and reverence of those who blazed a trail before us.”
Préfet Délégué Vincent Berton expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs for the efforts made on cooperation, but conceded there is a lot of work still to do to fight drug trafficking, criminality, security and other issues.
He advocated sharing competences and expertise in matters of education, youth affairs, health, water, waste management, environment and prevention of risks. He also praised the “remarkable” cooperation between the Gendarmerie and Dutch-side police KPSM.
President of the Collectivité Louis Mussington said the 375th anniversary is “a symbol of duration and success.”
Other speeches were given by Dutch-side Minister of Education Culture, Youth and Sports (ECYS) Rodolphe Samuel and Third Vice-President of the Collectivité Dominique Louisy assisted by Valérie Damaseau from the Culture Commission for the English part.
The ceremony opened with a reading of the Treaty articles in French and English by the respective heads of the Culture Departments Claudine Lake on the French side and Clara Reyes for the Dutch side.
Three national anthems were sung: “Wilhelmus” interpreted by La Vaun Henry, “La Marseillaise” interpreted by Natisha Hanson and “O Sweet Saint-Martin Land” interpreted by the choir of the Seventh-Day Adventist School, which also sang the “Unity Song.”
Poems were read by Sonia Fleming and Melissa Fleming while dance segments featured Dashaun Prince and Indisu. A wreath was also laid by the dignitaries during the earlier part of the ceremony.