03 September 2003

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Malta not invited to Prague, did not seek invitation

By Matthew Vella
Foreign Minister Joe Borg yesterday confirmed with The Malta Financial and Business Times that Malta was not invited to the small states forum on the coming intergovernmental conference on the EU Constitution.
"Malta has its own position on the proposed treaty for an EU Constitution. The thrust of the Maltese position has already been expressed by Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami during the EU Council of Ministers meeting in Thessaloniki in June."
Minister Joe Borg told The Malta Financial and Business Times that Malta will be presenting its position during the IGC in Rome in October. "We are ready to work with other countries who agree with our position and even independently of other countries."
This newspaper can also confirm that the Maltese government did not seek invitation to the conference.
EU member and future members, all small states, met in Prague on Monday to define a common position for the upcoming IGC. Deputy foreign ministers from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden were invited to the conference.
Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg turned down the invitation.
Organised by the Czech foreign ministry, the aim of the forum was to generate a concerted strategy to achieve major changes in the draft European constitution on EU structures, prepared by the Convention.
Last week, German foreign minister Joschka Fischer, told his Czech counterpart Cyril Svoboda that the European Union could find itself in crisis if no agreement on the Constitution is found by next spring. He advised the Czechs "not to unravel the package further".
Yesterday MLP EU affairs spokesperson Evarist Bartolo said the government was duty bound to explain why Malta had not attended the Prague conference. According to Bartolo, international press reports did not reveal whether Malta had been invited or not, although both versions had been carried in the international press.
"In Prague small states have agreed that every Member State should each have a Commissioner. They have also agreed that every Member State should have the opportunity to hold the Presidency of the European Union."
Bartolo said the 15 small states met at the start of this week and agreed on a common position for the IGC in Rome, saying that the proposed Constitution favours the large Member States such as France, the United Kingdom and Germany.
"The Maltese government has a big responsibility in safeguarding our country’s interests within the EU institutions because the decisions taken in these institutions will be affecting Maltese and Gozitan families in every aspect of their lives. If we don’t make ourselves heard now our interests will be negatively affected."

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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