05.12.2016

Oyster Pond dispute: “Negotiations about land border begin as soon as possible” says Minister Koenders

The action of French authorities against Captain Oliver’s in Oyster pond “go against the agreement to maintain the status quo,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders writes in answer to questions from VVD-parliamentarians André Bosman and Han ten Broeke.

Koenders furthermore wrote that negotiations about the establishment of the land border between the French and the Dutch side of the island “will begin as soon as possible.” “The relationship between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and France are excellent and they are not influenced by this difference of opinion.”

On October 236, French officials conducted an inspection of the construction of a new pier at Captain Oliver’s Marina. Several persons were taken away for interrogation by the Gendarmerie.

Bosman and Ten Broeke asked Minister Koenders whether the incident represents a territorial dispute, but Koenders did not go further than saying that the French action goes against the agreement to maintain the status quo.

The minister acknowledged that there is a dispute about the land border in Oyster Pond Bay. “In the Treaty of Concordia of 1648 that splits the island in a French and a Dutch part, that border had not been specifically marked.”

Koenders notes that after the signing of the maritime border treaty in April of this year, preparations have started for the negotiations about the land border of St. Maarten.

The Oyster Pond border dispute is an issue with a long history and it has had the attention also of Koenders predecessor Frans Timmermans, but based on results, it never became a priority. When Timmermans visited St. Maarten in June 2014, he said at a press conference in the A.C. Wathey Legislative Hall that he would look “once more” at the sea and land border disputes with the French side about Oyster Pond. “I will support St. Maarten in finding a solution with the French side,” he said. “It is in everybody’s interest to put this issue to bed.”

Hilbert Haar (Today)

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