Guido De Marco, former president of Malta who helped the nation win EU membership, has died

VALLETTA, Malta (AP) — Guido De Marco, a former president of Malta who helped the island nation win European Union membership, has died. He was 79 years old.

He died Thursday after suffering a heart attack at home, and the government responded by declaring three days of mourning.

A veteran Nationalist party leader, De Marco was foreign minister when he submitted Malta's application for EU membership in 1990. The tiny Mediterranean archipelago joined in 2004, the last year of De Marco's five-year term as president.

A fine orator and a top criminal lawyer in Malta, he was first elected to Parliament in 1966.

He also served as president of the U.N. General Assembly in the 1990s.

He is survived by his wife and his three children, all of whom are lawyers.