US Urges Albania to Heed EU Recommendations for Improvement

Posted June 29th, 2012 at 8:00 pm (UTC-5)
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A senior U.S. official has urged Albania to heed European Union recommendations on the improvements needed to be in place in the Balkan country before it can start negotiations for a membership in the regional bloc.

Philip Reeker, deputy assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia, has told the VOA Albanian Service that the window of opportunity is rapidly closing as the European Commission will soon start preparing a new assessment on Tirana's readiness to start European Union accession talks.

He said Albanian politicians have lost some time focusing on recent elections, but that they need to make up for that now.

“”They've lost some time, but they need to focus on important recommendations. There are 12 key recommendations that the European Union provided over a year ago. It is time to work on that because the window is rapidly closing. The European commission will soon set to work on its annual report — the status report — and so there is an opportunity now to make some real progress, particularly in three key areas: parliamentary reform, electoral reform and lifting of immunities.”

Reeker said Albanian politicians of all parties must be aware that the reforms are needed as soon as possible, ideally before the August recess.

Reeker congratulated President-elect Bujar Nishani on his June 11 election victory, but added that the wisdom of democracy is the wisdom of compromise, which he said the European Union will expect from Albania.

The European Union demands that the Balkan country improve its economy, end long-standing political factionalism and fight organized crime and corruption before it can become a candidate for membership of the 27-nation bloc.