Enlargement and Maltas foreign
Foreign Minister Joe Borg speaks on EU enlargement
and Maltas foreign policy at the recent Wilton Park conference
on EU enlargement and the future of Europe: The southern dimension.
I have been asked to address you on the implications of
the impending EU enlargement in the context of Malta's foreign policy.
It is an honour for me to discuss a subject of such great import as
enlargement from a Maltese perspective - a perspective that I augur
you will grow to understand better during the course of your stay on
For years now, indeed since Malta's independence in 1964, Malta has
striven to play an active role, often far in excess of its size, in
various international fora. We have participated in a number of institutions
and made a number of significant contributions therein. However our
participation has always been strongest in fora that were either European
or Mediterranean in nature. As an island located at the southern flank
of Europe and in the centre of the Mediterranean, it could not have
been any other way.
Since the early 70s we have also been a proponent of the thesis which
held that the security of Europe was inextricably tied to security in
the Mediterranean, and vice versa. It is this belief that has guided
our foreign policy both in the past and in the present.
Malta' two major foreign policy objectives are in fact:
A far deeper engagement with Europe built on our accession to
the European Union in the forthcoming enlargement on 1 May 2004, and
The furtherance of the common interests of the Mediterranean
region through the active promotion of policies aimed at fostering peace,
stability and prosperity in the region.
This Government firmly believes that these two objectives are both compatible
and mutually reinforcing.
EU enlargement is a project of unprecedented dimension and significance.
It is a project that has been long in the making. On the one hand it
confirms the removal, once and for all, of the divisions between neighbouring
countries which have for decades been kept cruelly apart. And on the
other hand, it is a major milestone in the process of European integration
that is the best guarantee of our individual states future well-being.
In bringing the ten acceding countries from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean
into the European fold, this next enlargement will create a space of
over 500 million persons who share similar values, norms and practices.
It creates new opportunities for investment and growth, new possibilities
for enriching exchanges of people, capital and goods, and new opportunities
for us to think and to work within a context of rich diversity.
For Malta, enlargement and our membership of this group of like-minded
nations, is also a concrete expression of Maltas identity and
a reflection of our commitment to a set of values, laws and principles
that we, as a people, support and uphold. In the pre-accession period
our imminent membership has already served as a catalyst for change
in many areas, and as a highly effective tool for the furtherance of
our national development. It has served to bring our standards and administrative
practices into line with those commonly in use on mainland Europe at
a time of increasing globalisation.
Our negotiations with the Union have now been completed. This has been
a three year long process that has seen a number of important laws enacted
or amended, procedures streamlined, authorities and other entities established
or strengthened, all in extensive consultation with civil society. It
has led, and continues to lead, to the strengthening of the very fabric
of our state.
However, I am sometimes asked, this is all very well for Malta, but
whats in it for the European Union? Why go to the considerable
trouble and expense of exhaustive negotiations with such a small island,
an island that will be represented in every institution of the Union,
and whose language will become an official language of the Union?
One of the key elements that I always include in my answer to this question
is our experience and knowledge of the Mediterranean.
Malta is fully committed to promoting stability in the Mediterranean
at the bilateral, regional and international levels. We believe this
can best be done through the creation of synergies between our two main
foreign policy goals. We strongly feel that we can contribute towards
a sense of shared prosperity and increased stability in the Mediterranean,
both through our own individual efforts and by supporting those of the
We bring to the Union an intimate knowledge of a region whose stability
is clearly vital for Europe. We are also an active and well-trusted
participant in all Mediterranean fora. By bringing the two together,
we feel certain of the substantial contribution we will be able to make
to further the European Unions Mediterranean policy from inside
The Barcelona Process or Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, initiated in
1995, has many components which remain of essence in bringing stability
and prosperity to the Mediterranean. The areas it looks at: political
instability, poverty, insufficient inward investment, migratory flows
and demographic imbalances are highly topical. They most certainly merit
our fullest attention. And the Barcelona Process clearly remains the
best forum we have to address these issues within a wide multilateral
context and long-term perspective.
Through our involvement in the Unions structures, we will continue
to seek to revitalise a policy that has to a large extent been held
hostage to external factors and events. To some extent there has also
been a lack of a co-ordinated and concerted approach and all the problems
have sadly been deepened by low levels of mutual understanding. The
international climate, unfortunately, does not bode well for significant
progress in creating and fostering mutual understanding at the present
time. Nevertheless, it is all the more important to continue to build
bridges to ensure that when a window of opportunity does present itself,
we are well-prepared to exploit it.
Only recently, Commission President Romano Prodi called for intercultural
dialogue as an important means for achieving greater awareness and wider
recognition of both our distinguishing features and our commonalities.
He also referred to the need for fresh incentives and greater flexibility
if the EU is to provide encouragement for the internal reforms that
are necessary for the Mediterranean countries to benefit fully from
the proposed opening-up of economies and trade.
Malta most certainly has a role to play here. We are in fact already
contributing to this intercultural exchange through, for example, our
efforts to create a Parliamentary Assembly for Mediterranean States
within the Inter-Parliamentary Union or indeed by the very hosting of
conferences such as this.
The years ahead will require many more such initiatives.
It is appropriate that this year the EU is being presided over by two
fellow European and Mediterranean states, Greece and Italy. I am confident
that during the course of their tenure, added impetus will be given
to the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. We need to strengthen this partnership,
irrespective of - or if you prefer, because of - the difficulties that
prevail in the Mediterranean and further afield. The international situation
that is currently unfolding day by day with regard to Iraq is of great
concern to us all. Allow me to add once again our voice to that of the
rest of the international community in urgently calling on Iraq to immediately
and fully comply with all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
I will also take this opportunity to underline our belief that any action
which is taken in this regard should be sanctioned by the United Nations
There is a further dimension to enlargement and Maltas foreign
policy which I wish to highlight.
This relates to those current and future member states that do not have
a border with the Mediterranean. Despite the lack of a geographical
link with the region, these countries form, or will soon form, an integral
part of a Union which pursues an active Mediterranean policy. By implication,
therefore, these countries too have, or will have, an interest in the
It is thus crucial that we seek to bridge the gaps between a wider Union
and its Mediterranean partners. It is also important that we seek to
promote an understanding, within the new members, of the Euro-Mediterranean
partnership that we have striven to build over the past few years.
The challenges ahead are enormous. In Malta, we are acutely aware of
this fact both because our lack of natural resources renders
us more dependent on the outside world, and because as a small nation,
we have little insulation from what goes on around us.
This is the reality that drives our foreign policy.
This is the reality that spurs us on in our efforts to strengthen, ever
further, relations with those in our most immediate vicinity. This is
the reality that drives us to seek enhanced co-operation, new opportunities
for investment and growth, new possibilities for exchange and new understanding
with our neighbours. Our accession to the Union, and the broader enlargement
process, cannot but contribute positively to ensuring that we make the
best of this reality.
We face the future with both confidence and resolve. The international
tension that we are living with at the moment should not be allowed
to cloud the significant progress we have made. Our continent
once cruelly divided is committed as never before to a shared
future, where the old zero-sum logic has disappeared in a Union of nation
states where a win for one is commonly recognised as a win for all.
We augur that this spirit of deep co-operation is transmitted to, and
becomes a reality for, the Mediterranean region too.