The address that never was

The Kingdom Council of State published what its Vice-President Thom de Graaf planned to say in his guest lecture at University of Curaçao, which was cancelled due to the island’s 13-hour power blackout on Monday (see Thursday paper). It’s a good thing they did, because the message was noteworthy.

De Graaf’s assertion that the added value of the kingdom lies in the wellbeing of the people and broad prosperity for all citizens is right on the mark. He spoke of giving more content to relations between the Netherlands and Dutch Caribbean countries concerning “the meaning of lasting solidarity, the real will to support each other and to progress together, not fast but steadily.”

Even the biggest kingdom sceptic and/or “independista” will acknowledge that the latter sounds a lot friendlier than “taking over justice” or “throwing the kingdom charter in the wastebasket.”

As De Graaf also recognized, such a vision can only be implemented “if desired politically and sometimes also if we dared.” He added that if the kingdom truly wants to live in the hearts of the people it is “absolutely necessary” to keep cooperating and to improve the well-being of the people by investing in education, culture, security, employment, health care and sustainability.

All this is obviously easier said than done, but it’s at least a more constructive and positive approach than the prevalent often-negative narrative coming out of The Hague regarding kingdom ties. De Graaf reminded some of those involved that “the historic responsibility for our trans-Atlantic Kingdom does not diminish when putting the sign ‘commonwealth’ on it.”

His point about the more direct relations with the islands since the Netherlands Antilles and its Central Government was dismantled contributing to friction makes sense. However, it’s not an excuse, as almost a decade has passed; enough time to adjust to the new situation.

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