German president hails Albania’s pro-European stand

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — The German president on Thursday hailed Albania’s pro-European stand and urged its authorities to continue reforms toward membership into the European Union.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier is visiting Albania to talk with its top officials on EU membership negotiations and the situation in the Western Balkan region.

“Please keep on further work in the fight against all obstacles, in coping with corruption and organized crime, keep on justice reform, and the opposition and government should work beyond political battles toward the joint destination of EU membership,” Steinmeier said in his speech to the parliament, adding that, “It’s worth it.”

Albania and neighboring North Macedonia, which Steinmeier visited earlier this week, started membership talks with the EU in July, in a process expected to last years.

Regional cooperation was the best path toward faster integration into the bloc, Steinmeier said.

Last month at a meeting in Berlin the six Western Balkan countries — Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Albania — signed agreements on easing regional travel arrangements and mutual recognition of academic qualifications as part of what is known as “the Berlin process,” an initiative from Germany and France to encourage the Balkan countries in their path toward membership into the bloc.

“Please be insistent and continue such a path until it successfully concludes with EU membership,” said Steinmeier. “Your heart beats for Europe. You live in a European way and we shall assist you in crossing the obstacles in this road toward the EU.”

Germany has been a main supporter of post-communist Albania. It is the country’s fourth largest trade partner. Some 70,000 Albanians live in Germany.

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