Speaking in Valletta after talks with his Maltese counterpart Eddie Fenech Adami, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis referred to efforts to find a “compromise” that will combine “the effectiveness of the EU and speed in decision-making” with “the necessity of each Member State to have the right to express its views and jointly decide with its partners”. Simitis was in Malta as part of his tour of EU capitals in his capacity as President of the European Council.
Simitis also referred to the timetable for institutional reform, noting that the draft Constitution would be presented at the Thessaloniki European Council in June. In addition, he expressed the hope that the Intergovernmental Conference will begin its sessions in October or November so that the EU will be able to decide on the new Constitution at the beginning of next year and by 15 June 2004 at the latest.
Lastly, referring to the agenda of the forthcoming European Council, Simitis underlined the need to control the large increase in immigration, particularly with respect to the financing of “this common effort”, the “distribution of burdens”, the possibility of implementing a “common policy, by way of indication the establishment of a common border police force”.
On his part, Adami praised the Greek Presidency for its “extraordinary success” which, he added, had been achieved under “particularly difficult circumstances”. He said that Malta “looks forward to the completion of the Convention’s work and particularly the new Constitution”. Adami also stressed the “correctness of the positions supported by the Presidency.”
Replying to a question on US President George Bush’s statement on the recent terrorist attack in Riyadh, Simitis noted that the EU “wants the fight against terrorism to continue, since acts of terrorism provoke retaliation”.
“We must eliminate the causes of terrorist action, namely poverty, nationalism and feelings of oppression,” Simitis said.