New York, 10 April 2003 - "Yesterday's vote in the European Parliament was a convincing confirmation of the support the 'enlargement' project enjoys within the European Union," Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner said in New York today. "The clear vote of approval for each of the accession candidates is an unequivocal reflection of the high esteem our future partner countries enjoy among the elected representatives of approximately 379 million citizens in the current Member States. The applicant states have all undergone difficult transformation processes that required huge sacrifices of each of them. But the will to leave the past behind and embark on a new path enabled our future partner states to overcome these difficulties. These efforts have now been overwhelmingly acknowledged by the Members of the European Parliament."
"The European Parliament's approval marks a further decisive step towards EU Membership for the ten accession candidates. A next step will be taken on Wednesday, 16 April 2003, when the new entrants' membership treaty will be ceremonially signed in the Ancient Agora of Athens. With the European Parliament's approval vote in hand, we will be able to hail our future partners in the European Union with a clear and distinct message: `We welcome you to the European Union from the bottom of our hearts'," the Austrian Foreign Minister concluded.