Netherlands Antilles to cease to exist as a country
Published: 1 October 2009 13:17 | Changed: 1 October 2009 15:43
By Radio Netherlands Worldwide
The Netherlands Antilles will cease to exist as a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands on October 10, 2010.
In a meeting on Curaçao on Wednesday, the Dutch-Caribbean islands of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba agreed to become Dutch municipalities.
On the same date, 10-10-10, Curaçao and the Dutch half of St Maarten will become independent countries within the Kingdom, on an equal footing with the Netherlands proper and with Aruba, which gained its "status aparte" in 1986.
The previous semi-independence arrangement between the Dutch central government and its former Caribbean colonies dated from 1954 and was due for renewal.
Dutch deputy home affairs minister Ank Bijleveld warned that a lot of work remains to be done following Wednesday's Curaçao agreement. The parliaments in The Hague and Willemstad (Curaçao) need to pass a number of laws, and administrative bodies for Curaçao and St Maarten need to be set up.
The Dutch government also wants assurances that rampant crime on Curaçao and St Maarten will be fought harder. Dutch police detectives will continue to be active in the kingdom's new countries.