Adress by Princess Beatrix at the opening of the KYP
Address by Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix at the opening of the Kingdom Youth Parliament, Sint Maarten, on 20 May 2014
Members of the Kingdom Youth Parliament, ladies and gentlemen,
Our shared history within a single Kingdom goes back two hundred years. That history belongs to each and every one of us: it is common to all the inhabitants of the four countries that make up the Kingdom and those living in the special municipalities of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba.
Every generation looks at the past, the present and the future in its own way. And in doing so each new generation feels the need to decide its own priorities and to set its own course. In a democracy this cannot be achieved without people meeting each other and entering into debate.
Over the next three days you will be coming together as members of the Kingdom Youth Parliament to debate matters which concern us all. I greatly appreciate being invited to attend. Though I belong to a different generation, I feel closely involved and very welcome.
This gathering brings young people from every part of our Kingdom here today, each contributing his or her own experiences, knowledge, talents, ideas and opinions. A variety of traditions and characteristics will come face to face. This is a challenging moment for all participants. Debating is, after all, more than trying to convince others that you are right. Listening to others and having the courage to adjust your own opinions is equally important. The point of shared reflection is for people to be heard and for interesting ideas to strike a sympathetic chord.
It is good that the Youth Parliament is taking place on Sint Maarten. We can only properly understand the significance of two centuries of shared history if we take account of everyone’s perspective and if the contribution of all parts of the Kingdom is fully acknowledged. It can be refreshing for people from the Netherlands – young and not so young – to reflect on our future in these surroundings. The trade winds that blow in Sint Maarten create a different ambience than the southwesterlies of Hoek van Holland. And the cocoa trees near Philipsburg offer a different kind of shade than the Dutch oaks at Burgh Haamstede. That variety should be seen as an enrichment.
We have many cultural traditions that may sometimes be very different. Our shared history embraces periods of acrimony and times of hope and expectation. Despite the differences in our experiences and perceptions, we have been joined in one Kingdom for two centuries. That is very significant.
Without concealing differences of opinion, it is useful to focus on the things that bind us and on the positive forces at work everywhere in our Kingdom.
I hope that this assembly will enrich our knowledge, broaden our perspectives and encourage a stimulating exchange of experiences. It is good for a new generation to participate actively in the public debate on cooperation within our Kingdom and to put forward new ideas. And it is reassuring for people of my generation to see and meet so many young people who feel a joint responsibility for our shared future. Your enthusiasm is infectious!
I hope that all the members of the Kingdom Youth Parliament will enjoy the groundbreaking and fascinating debates that are to come. I wish you every success and, above all, great fun!
I now pass the gavel to the Speaker of the Kingdom Youth Parliament, who is also the ambassador of the Sint Maarten team: Ms Trumane Trotman.