March 24, 2015 / 6:29 PM / in 3 years

Keep up reforms for entry talks, EU tells Albania

TIRANA (Reuters) - Albania’s willingness to push ahead with reforms will determine its future steps to gain entry to the EU, the bloc’s Enlargement Commissioner said on Tuesday.

Johannes Hahn, visiting Tirana for the first time, said the EU and Albania had gone over the Adriatic nation’s plans to meet the criteria for the opening of accession negotiations.

Albania was given candidate status in June last year, having previously been rejected four times in as many years.

“Success will depend on Albania’s resolve to continue with reforms in an inclusive way and make them irreversible,” Hahn told reporters at a news conference with Prime Minister Edi Rama.

“It is important that Albania pursues a comprehensive, inclusive and consistent justice reform process which is essential to increase public trust in the judiciary,” he said.

Albania should focus on fighting corruption and increasing the efficiency and independence of the public administration, Hahn said.

Hahn appealed to the government and opposition to reach compromises to help bring about EU entry. Noting that both the quality and speed of reforms was important for Albania, Rama said work to pass laws, rules and consolidate a progressive track record in the fight against crime and corruption had been stepped up.

“We are fully confident the process of reforms in the judiciary is of high quality and quick, as we are that in autumn we shall hand over to the Commission our completed homework on the five key priorities,” Rama told reporters.

Reporting By Benet Koleka; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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