New state secretary aims to “optimise” kingdom relations

Zsolt Szabó, the upcoming state secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digi­talisation, aims to work towards improving the relations between the Netherlands and the islands in the Caribbean part of the kingdom. Last week, the state secretary emphasised this during the introductory public hearing for the upcoming cabinet in the Dutch Second Chamber of Parliament.

Ferenc Zsolt Szabo

As of Monday, July 2, Szabó will assume the role of state secretary on behalf of the far-right Party for Freedom PVV. Despite his party’s past controversial state­ments, Szabó emphasised that he wishes to focus on the future. Asked about PVV Party Leader Geert Wilders’ statement in 2007 that “the [Netherlands — Ed.] An­tilles should be put on Market Place,” Szabo stressed that the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom are referred to as “valuable” in the outline coalition agreement.

He emphasises that his actions will be based on the current co­alition agreement and not on pre­vious statements. “At home, we always say ‘and let’s just keep go­ing,’ so I think we will be in a new situation and I will do everything possible to optimise the relation­ship between the Caribbean part of the Kingdom and the Nether­lands,” Szabó said.

Although Szabó has visited the islands before as member of par­liament, he intends to travel to the Caribbean part of the kingdom soon. “One of the first things I will do is check whether I can secure a tick­et going that way, after I have spoken to my own civ­il servants, to also speak to the people there,” he said. Caretaker State Secretary of Kingdom Relations Al­exandra van Huffelen will meet with Szabó on July 2 to go through the various dossiers. Asked about her message for her successor during her last press con­ference with Caribbean media, Van Huffelen said she thinks it is important to continue the good rela­tions and openness, and the foundation of respect and trust.

For the countries Curacao, Aruba and St. Maarten, Van Huffelen would advise Szabó to continue work­ing on economic growth through the available funds and resources.

For the public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, Van Huffelen stressed the importance of “working out and implementing ev­erything we have realised in terms of resources. We have given the public enti­ties a fair amount of money to be able to do their tasks. I hope they can continue to work on fulfilling those.” When asked about Szabó’s statements in his introduc­tion to the Second Cham­ber, Van Huffelen said she heard that he plans to keep relations very warm, good and open, and that he wants to come and visit the islands soon. “And I am very happy to hear that,” she concluded.

The Daily Herald.

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