Wien, 10. March 2003 Press release

Ferrero-Waldner Welcomes Malta to Europe

10.03.2003

Malta will be an asset for the European Union

Vienna, 10 March 2003 - "I congratulate the people of Malta on their vote with a view to the future and I am happy to welcome Malta to the European Union. I hope that this encouraging outcome will also have a positive impact on referenda to be held in the course of this year in the other new member states," Minister for Foreign Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner said today on the occasion of the positive result of the EU referendum in Malta. Malta is the first country to hold a referendum on joining the European Union in the group of states the EU accession of which is scheduled for 1 May 2004.

Although Malta will be the smallest member state of the European Union in terms of population and surface area, Malta is nevertheless "big" in history and culture, said the Minister for Foreign Affairs. "The country will be an asset to our Union, be it due to the phenomenal megalithic sites or due to the Caravaggio paintings in St .John's Cathedral in La Valletta. Her language makes Malta a bridge to the Arab region, which will give Europe yet another new dimension," Ferrero-Waldner continued.

Ferrero-Waldner: "Austria always followed the efforts of Malta with heartfelt empathy and repeatedly lent direct support to the island in negotiations. This is what I also clearly expressed when I visited Malta in July 2002."