Delegations from the Dutch Antilles signed a declaration today in The Hague reforming the status of these five former Dutch island colonies in the Caribbean.
As of 10 October 2010, the Dutch Antilles will cease to exist as a country. Curacao and St Maarten will become separate countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, while Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius will become special Dutch municipalities. Aruba already had a separate status. The ceremony was attended by Prince Willem-Alexander and Deputy Kingdom Relations Minister Ank Bijleveld and caretaker Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.
The prime minister called the declaration â€œa new chapterâ€ . The intensive process which has taken five years is supposed to give the larger islands more autonomy.