Malta and Cyprus have quite a few things in common. Being a Cypriot I know the difficulties in proving yourself in Europe. What is the "usefulness" for any European in being interested in what a Maltese or a Cypriot says? They both come from extremely small countries, from dots in the Mediterranean Sea, from countries that economically and politically won't change the direction of Europe. However, sometimes we have the chance to put our small countries on the map; to give to ourselves a raison d'être as political beings.

Roberta Tedesco Triccas has surely put Malta on the map. Ask anyone who has known Roberta these past years and chances are they all will tell you the same thing - that Roberta is one of the best ambassadors of Malta in the European arena.

For many Europeans Roberta represents all they know about Malta. She was there before the accession; she was there: in the EPP political bureau; she was there: in EDS (European Democrat Students); she was there: in the European Youth Forum; she was there: in the European Youth Convention; she was there: in Bruges. The mere fact that she has been there and contributed means a lot. A woman from Malta in her early 20s was there.

Roberta realised that being from a small country has certain limitations but it surely has a lot of advantages at the same time. She knows how to play the game in Europe, she knows who she is and where she comes from and fully understands all the advantages and all the disadvantages of being from a small country in a newly enlarged European Union. It is not so easy to be young and have the ability to understand who you really are.

Roberta combines the Mediterranean sense of flexibility and political entrepreneurship with the effectiveness and punctuality of the North. She is political but at the same time she is a manager. She is a natural leader but at the same time she has an inner feeling of respect to the office that is above her in hierarchy.

Roberta has the ability to see globally, to think "Europeanly" (if I may coin a term) and to act locally. She is a true Maltese; in all time that we spent working together I found it unbelievable how much she misses her country, her home town, Swieqi, her mother's cooking and her sisters while she is abroad. The love she has of her country is obvious to all who have ever had a conversation with her. However, at the same time, she is a true European who knows not only how to survive but most importantly how to excel abroad. She is, in my opinion, an ideal example of a Maltese European.

We all surely have our weaknesses; no one is perfect. However, the questions that are being asked by the Maltese electorate are: Is Roberta capable enough to be worthy of my vote in the European Parliament election? Does Roberta, who has studied law in Malta and is doing her Master's in European Politics in Bruges, deserve my vote? Is Roberta, who was elected EDS secretary-general and twice EDS vice-chairman worth my vote? Is Roberta, who was elected vice-president of the European Youth Convention after being proposed by Jean-Luc Dehaene, former Prime Minister of Belgium and vice-president of the European Convention, worth voting for? The answer for me is a clear Yes. I only wish I had the chance to vote for her myself.

Alexandros Sinka, 25, is a Ph.D. student at City CASS Business School in London, examining the integration of European Stock Markets. He graduated from UCL (London) studying law in 2001 and he was also awarded an M.Sc. in Shipping Trade and Finance with a distinction from City CASS Business School in 2003. He is serving his first term as EDS chairman and has already served two terms as vice-chairman (2001-2003). He is currently working as a business strategy consultant in London and is an honorary Research Fellow at Imperial College, London.

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