10-10-10: A new start for the islands of the Netherlands Antilles

On Sunday 10 October, Curaçao and St Maarten became constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The islands of Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius are now special municipalities of the Netherlands. The Netherlands Antilles has ceased to exist as a country.

Officials in Willemstad on Curaçao lowered the Antillean flag at midnight (Sunday at 6 a.m. in the Netherlands). The ceremony was attended by Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima. The State Secretary for Kingdom Relations, Ms Ank Bijleveld, and the Minister of Defence, Mr Eimert van Middelkoop, represented the Dutch Government at the event. There was also an official ceremony on St Maarten, where the Minister of Justice and the Interior, Ernst Hirsch Ballin, represented the Dutch Government.

In her address during the Willemstad event, Ms Bijleveld emphasised that the constitutional changes marked a new start for the islands, one that put the wellbeing of the islands’ people first. “We sought for the right formulas and rules for a reliable public administration and we lavished great attention on what many people indicate is their main concern: safety and the protection of the law, rights to which every citizen of the Kingdom is entitled. These were the aims that we set for ourselves when developing the new relationships within the Kingdom and, to an even greater extent, within the new countries. Our goal has always been to create a situation in which all inhabitants are able to take care of themselves and their loved ones, to see that children get a good education and can live their lives safely, and to make it possible for everyone to build a future for themselves.”