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Eman says Minister Plasterk ‘has not kept our agreement’

THE HAGUE--Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk "has not kept our agreement," said Prime Minister Mike Eman during a press conference Monday about Aruba's protest and his hunger strike following a decision of the Kingdom Council of Ministers to have the Governor of Aruba carry out an investigation into the 2014 budget and the tenability of Aruba's government finances.

Several Members of the Dutch Parliament posed questions about the Council of Ministers' decision and Eman's hunger strike.

Aruba has a government debt of almost 1.5 billion euros, some 75 per cent of annual income. The Netherlands has ordered the island's Governor not to approve the finances pending further review.

"I want to convince you that Prime Minister Rutte and others made the wrong decision, not only in the relation with Aruba, but also in connection with the procedure. You should also be worried, as this affects the legal state," Eman told the media at Fort Zoutman.

Eman stressed that in times of crisis every country was making its own choices. "Some countries cut back on their budgets, sometimes almost obsessively. Other countries choose to stimulate the economy. Both models are applied the world over," he said.

He said Aruba always had sought the added value of the Kingdom in choosing cooperation. Therefore, he was surprised that the Dutch government now had chosen a "ramming course."

"Minister Plenipotentiary Alfonso Boekhoudt has asked for an internal appeal, which is no favour, but a right, but that was declined. It was also declined to submit the decision to the Council of State," Eman said.

Asked about what had gone wrong in the days after the first decision in which Aruba and the Netherlands both had agreed on an investigation by an independent committee, Eman said the Netherlands had not adhered to the arrangement that the committee would consist of members proposed by the Netherlands and Aruba.

Aruba preferred former State Secretary of Finance Frans Weekers and former Central Bank President Hassanali Mehranin. Minister Plasterk said later that the committee would be formed by members of the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT, "but that was not the arrangement," Eman said.

Eman explained that it was not possible to challenge the decision in Court. By means of the hunger strike he is trying to put pressure on the Dutch government.

Asked whether he would be prepared to die for this cause, Eman replied with a simple "yes."

Dutch Members of Parliament (MPs) Alexander Pechtold and Wassila Hachchi of centre-democrat D66 and Christian Democrat MPs Sybrand van Haersma Buma and Madeleine van Toorenburg posed written questions to Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister Plasterk about Eman's hunger strike.

Among other questions, they wanted to know if it was not "damaging" that a Prime Minister of a Kingdom country saw no solution other than a hunger strike to protest against "illegitimate decisions" of the Kingdom Council of Ministers. The MPs also wanted to know how it could have come that far.

They also asked whether the decision was in violation of the so-called budget right of Aruba's Parliament.

The MPs want a response to the Second Chamber no later than today, Tuesday, at 12:00pm.

Eman said he had received many reactions from the Netherlands. "I know that emergency actions are being undertaken at this moment and I also received many phone calls from politicians, but not from Prime Minister Rutte. I think he will go quietly on vacation. I think that maybe this is also directly the big difference between us. The heart makes the difference in how we stand in life and in the community."

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