FRENCH QUARTER –“To the people of Sint Maarten, to our residents and to our guests, once again we have gathered here to celebrate Sint Maarten Day to mark the peaceful coexistence of two nations divided by an imaginary line. Before I address the theme of Unity and Friendship, I must take this opportunity to express my gratitude and optimism on the current trajectory of cooperation of our local Governments.
Since taking office, I can say with confidence that our cooperation is real and tangible. Together with Prefet Sylvie Feucher, and President Daniel Gibbs the resolution of any issue or concern is just a phone call away. This approach of an open communication between both sides has yielded positive results throughout my 11 months in office.
We have active collaboration on matters such as firefighting where resources and manpower are shared on both sides. Cooperation in the area of Disaster Management has been enhanced to the extent that it now forms integral part of all preparation and response efforts of both Governments.
Our Meteorological Services are also finding ways to complement each other’s efforts with an ongoing project to operate a joint weather radar that will be mutually beneficial to both sides.
Through the European Development Fund, additional joint projects have been identified and details are being worked out that will eventually lead to positive outcomes such as the cleanup of the Simpson bay lagoon, the drainage solution for Dutch and French Quarter area.
There is also cooperation on the promotion, marketing and product development of our tourism industry ensuring that both economies bounce back after the passing of Hurricane Irma.
Annually, high-level Quadripartite meetings (Q–Meeting) are held between government officials from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Republic of France, Government of Sint Maarten and the Collectivité of Saint Martin. Some of the objectives covered during these meetings are to identify and discuss cross border issues and come up with mutually agreed solutions and to familiarize parties with the relevant focal points and actors responsible for cooperation.
When I think of Unity and Friendship, I think of the people of this wonderful and unique island. Government may discuss and present ideas of unity and friendship but it is the people who speak truth to these ideas. Families’ friends’ civil servants and guests included make this unity and friendship work. The freedom to drive from side to side allows each of us the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty and culture of the island. Therefore, our differences are far less than the things we share in common.
Our commonalities begin with the shared bloodlines that not only flow through our veins but also across borders and strengthen the bonds of our shared culture and heritage. So on this Sint Maarten Day we must re-commit to ensure that the unity, friendship and family we hold so dearly is preserved in honor of our ancestors for an additional 370 years to come.
As we partake in the activities and festive atmosphere on this Sint Maarten Day, an integral part of the day is the celebration of the Sint Maarten flag.
Today is the day when all our patriots display their red, white and blue proudly. The Sint Maarten flag is one of our national symbols that brings us together as a country as we continue on our journey too recovery. On this Sint Maarten Day, let us hold our flag high and take pride in our country as we celebrate our “Sweet Sint Maarten Land”.
To the people – Happy Sint Maarten Day