Poland has voted overwhelmingly to join the European Union. Jim Bertel reports, Poles approved the move in a weekend referendum.
Jubilant poles are celebrating their return to the European fold, after a decisive weekend vote. Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski told cheering supporters the country had fulfilled its aspirations to rejoin Europe and described the day as historic.
ALEKSANDER KWASNIEWSKI, PRESIDENT OF POLAND
“It’s an historic day. It’s an absolutely historic day. I think with a very important place in the books of history.”
The referendum gives MR. Kwasniewski the popular mandate needed to ratify Poland’s treaty with the E.U., signed at an Athens summit in April. The polish president says this move is important for Poland.
“We can develop a lot and accelerate the progress of our economy, or our life, of everything. We’ll be in the European family again. That is the point.”
E.U. membership will give Poles the chance to legally live and work within the European Union for the first time. But much work remains.
Polish prime minister Leszek Miller says the country has difficult steps still to take, including: bringing its economy up to E.U. standards, introducing visas for its eastern neighbors and tightening border controls.
Poland is the largest of 10 nations invited to join the European Union in May, 2004.