Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-226"

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"Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I first want to say how grateful I am to President Pat Cox for inviting President Lech Walesa to yesterday’s flag-raising ceremony at the flagpoles in my home town of Gdansk. Mr Walesa symbolises the changes leading to political freedom in Europe. The current enlargement of the European Union means that 450 million citizens now find themselves in an area of incomparably greater freedom, security, stability, and progress. The Union’s offer of the opportunity of membership to the former Communist countries induced the latter to accomplish the huge task of reform in order to meet higher standards such as the Copenhagen standards. This demonstrates that the clear offer of such an opportunity can influence the entire domestic and foreign policy of a country seeking to join the Community. It therefore constitutes one of the most effective instruments at the Union’s disposal, and can result in increasing the range of freedoms available to its citizens and their security. There is, however, a risk that following the current enlargement, the European Union may concentrate solely or mainly on strengthening the integration process instead of exerting an effective influence on its neighbours. This should not happen. The new Member States, including Poland, could be very helpful in this regard. I therefore wish to emphasise the urgency of introducing a bold policy with regard to areas to the south and east of the European Union. This includes Turkey. Despite the many current political, cultural, and economic concerns, we should keep membership open to all those willing to fulfil the criteria for joining the European Union. Finally, I would like to highlight that the policy of increasing freedom and security we are discussing here today and about which Commissioner Vitorino spoke, is provided for by the provisions of the draft Constitutional Treaty. I have in mind Article 58, concerning the European Union and its immediate vicinity, as well as the provisions on the crucial pillars respecting freedom and security. I would therefore like to state that in my opinion, this draft should be implemented as quickly as possible."@en1

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