PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - Princess Beatrix opened on Tuesday the Kingdom Youth Parliament (Koninkrijksjeugdparlement - KJP) on Sint Maarten. After a short speech the princess gave the presidential gavel to Trumane Trotman, the Sint Maarten student of 23 who will be the chairperson of the KJP.
For three days 50 youngsters from across the Kingdom will debate with each other on issues such as education and culture, children’s rights and sustainable development. There are five teams from Sint Maarten, Curaçao, Aruba, the Netherlands and the Caribbean Netherlands, which includes youngsters from Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. The debates are bilingual, Dutch and English.
After an intensive pre-selection, in recent months the teams have been preparing for the KJP with their own coach, under the guidance of the Dutch Debate Institute (Nederlands Debatinstituut). The youngsters have been trained in properly substantiating and presenting their views, listening to each other, collaborating and drawing practical and workable conclusions. In the debates and final conclusions the youngsters will give their views on the present and the future of the Kingdom.
In her addressing Princess Beatrix said she highly appreciates being present. "Even though I am not of your generation, I still feel very involved and welcome!”
She called the KJP gathering in Sint Maarten valuable. "We can only be well aware of the significance of 200 years Kingdom, if we do involve everyone's perspective, and if the contribution of all parts of the Kingdom may come into its own. For people from the Netherlands - young and old - it can be refreshing to think about our future in this environment. The trade winds blowing over Sint Maarten have a different 'feel' atmosphere than the southwester near Hoek van Holland. And a cocoa tree at Philipsburg gives a different shade than a Dutch oak at Burgh Haamstede. This variety can be experienced as an asset."
The princess did not shy away from the (cultural) differences within the Kingdom. "Our shared history has known bitter periods and times of hope and expectation. Despite the - sometimes great - differences in experience and perception out there, we have all been connected for two centuries in one Kingdom. That is significant. Without covering the differences of opinion, it is good to have an eye for what unites us and for the positive forces at work everywhere in our Kingdom.
She also expressed the hope that the KJP debates may contribute to the mutual enrichment of shared knowledge, a broader perspective and to an exchange of experience that is stimulating. "It is good as a new generation actively joins in the debate on cooperation within our Kingdom and brings about new ideas. For people of my generation it gives confidence to see and meet so many youngsters who feel co-responsible for our collective future. Your enthusiasm is contagious! "
Trumane Trotman, who also leads the Sint Maarten team and thus is the KJP chairperson the coming days, said in her welcoming speech that the “multicultural Kingdom is unique” and more than worthwhile to invest in. “That way it will still exist in another 200 years”.
Ank Bijleveld, chairperson of the National Committee 200 years Kingdom indicated during the opening that with their debates at the KJP, the youngsters contribute in bringing together the various parts of the Kingdom. She invited everyone to not only think from the common problems, but above all focus on the own contribution to the solutions. “It would be nice if we could get that done in the Kingdom”.
Princess Beatrix will be attending several debates of the youth parliament the coming days and she will personally get acquainted with the members of the five teams. Thursday she will also receive the final conclusions of the KJP. The intention is that the youngsters continue to draw attention to the recommendations contained therein in their own country or island and realize them.
The KJP is the 3rd national event of the National Committee 200 years Kingdom in a series of six. After the start of the celebration on November 30th, 2013 and the Constitution Festival, events in Maastricht, Zwolle and the closure in September 2015 in Amsterdam will follow next.
The opening of the KJP on Sint Maarten was attended by the Governors, Presidents of the Parliaments and the Prime Ministers of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. The Island Governors of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba were also present.
The full text of the speech of Princess Beatrix at KJP is available on www.koninklijkhuis.nl (English and Dutch) and www.200jaarkoninkrijk.nl.