06 January 2012

New St. Martin Préfet assumes duties in Caribbean Collectivités

Daily Herald

MARIGOT--New Préfet for St. Martin and St. Barths Philippe Chopin (52) met the press on Friday, and outlined the scope of his posting as successor to Jacques Simonnet. His first ceremonial engagement since starting work on December 12 was to lay a wreath at the war memorial, in the garden of Hotel de La Collectivité.

During the past week, he has met President Frantz Gumbs and Senator Louis-Constant Fleming as well as President of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council Georges Gumbs, Chamber of Commerce President Steve Tackling and other personalities.

He noted that even with a distinguished career behind him, this was his first posting in the Antilles, an area he was unfamiliar with, but he accepted the post "with humility and a desire to learn and be useful."

Chopin described his mission as falling into four categories and he reports directly to the Préfet of Guadeloupe.

His first priority is with public order and protection of citizens that involves a close working relationship with judicial authorities, the Gendarmerie and Territorial Police; and secondly, he is to assist in economic development, in collaboration with elected officials.

His third priority is joint cooperation with the Dutch side and he noted that work had already started in this regard before he had arrived. A meeting with Dutch-side counterparts is planned for this week. And the fourth priority is to emphasise the State's role in guiding the young Collectivité in its objectives.

He said he would take his time to study the various files under discussion before making decisions, while noting that his Chef de Cabinet and Secretary General were also relatively new to their posts and a certain induction period would be necessary.

"I am here to work with elected officials, not in an authoritarian sense, but to collaborate and find solutions," he said. Philippe Chopin has two decorations: Knight of the Legion of Honour and Knight of the National Order of Merit.

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