Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has several field visits and meetings as part of the packed programme when he and State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops are in the Windward Islands on Sunday and Monday, May 13-14. The emphasis will be on the islands’ recovery after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Rutte and Knops, accompanied by a delegation of civil servants, will start their visit in St. Eustatius early Sunday afternoon. Right after their arrival, a meeting is scheduled with National Government Commissioner Mike Franco, Deputy Commissioner Mervyn Stegers and the Social Advisory Council.
During a subsequent tour around the island, Rutte and Knops will visit Fort Oranje, which has been damaged by erosion, the harbour and the Lower Town area. They will also visit the home-repair programme initiated after the hurricanes.
In the late afternoon, Rutte, Knops and the delegation will fly to Saba where they will be met by Island Governor Jonathan Johnson. They will be shown the island and have dinner with the Executive Council. The harbour and other parts of Saba will be visited early Monday morning, before they fly to St. Maarten.
On their arrival in St. Maarten on Monday morning, Rutte and Knops will meet with the Police Alpha Team at Princess Juliana International Airport, followed by a meeting with St. Maarten Governor Eugene Holiday.
Rutte and Knops will pay a visit to the White Yellow Cross, which has been playing an important role in St. Maarten’s reconstruction after the hurricane. A luncheon with representatives of the law enforcement sector is next on the packed agenda.
After an introductory meeting with interim Prime Minister Leona Marlin-Romeo and the other members of the Council of Ministers, the Dutch delegation will move to Simpson Bay Lagoon where they will board a boat for a tour. St. Martin Prefete Anne Laubies and President of the Collectivite of St. Martin Daniel Gibbs will join the group for this tour on water.
During this tour, Rutte and Knops will not only be able to witness the destruction that the hurricane caused to the boats in the lagoon, but they will also be able to have a conversation with Laubies and Gibbs about the cooperation between the countries, which is especially important now in light of the entire island’s reconstruction.
Before returning to the Netherlands in the late afternoon, Rutte and Knops will be given a tour of Princess Juliana International Airport. At the Airport, there will also be a short press conference which will include St. Maarten Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin.
The Dutch delegation’s visit aims to provide the Rutte with a view of the reconstruction work taking place on the three islands, as well as the process to strengthen the law enforcement sector in St. Maarten. Reinforcement of border control is one of the conditions the Dutch Government tied to the financing of the Recovery Rust Fund. Originally, Rutte was supposed to visit the Windward Islands early November last year. However, that visit was cancelled because at that time there was no agreement with the Dutch Government about the conditions for the 550-millioneuro St. Maarten Recovery ‘Trust Fund.
The Daily Herald.