By Linda Karadaku

In an attempt to help Albania heal its political sector and unify towards European integration, the foreign ministers of Italy and Greece visited the country.

"The national interest should become the main objective of Albania," Italy's Franco Fratini said, discussing the proper functioning of parliament and the equilibrium between the political forces.

The Italian minister asked for the parties' words to be turned into actions, warning that otherwise, the European Commission's report on the country, due next month, will not be positive on Albania.

"We want Albania to be part of the EU, not just for the EU, but we want it really as a part of it," Frattini said.

Greece's Stavros Lambridis underlined the electoral reform, the reform on human rights, minorities, fighting organized crime and transparency, as the main criteria to be fulfilled.

"We are happy to see that they are the focus of the Albanian side as well," he said, adding that "integration is an objective for the overwhelming majority of the population".

"We are here and we represent the EU. We are sincere supporters of Albania and the European future. The message I want to convey is the need for national unification on the way towards Europe," Lambridis said.

Albanian President Bamir Topi underlined the need to re-establish communication within the political class on major issues. The political class in the country "carries the responsibility and the political awareness, as well as the maturity to understand and realize that the integration into the EU, requires the unification of the attempts of all Albanians," Topi said.

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha welcomed the recent return of the opposition to parliament, saying the move might mark the return of political dialogue.

Opposition MP Damian Gjiknuri told SETimes that the opposition is ready hold a dialogue with the majority as soon as possible, but there is "no signal yet from the majority."

"We hope that Berisha will stick to what he said publicly, that he would accept any proposal of the opposition, supported by the OSCE/ODIHR," Gjiknuri told SETimes.

Socialist leader Edi Rama said the opposition is committed to an electoral reform that will address all the recommendations of the OSCE-ODIHR report on the last elections.

"In the meeting with the foreign ministers of Italy and Greece, we stressed also the indispensability for an urgent parliamentary reform which could return consensus for the rules of functioning of the parliamentary life and give the opposition in the parliament not more, not less, then the freedoms and rights, denied to it unilaterally from the actual majority in the parliament of Albania," Rama said.

Albanian Diplomatic Academy President Lisen Bashkurti told SETimes that the visit shows that the integration of the Western Balkans countries remains in the agenda of Brussels, regardless of the specific problems of every country.

There is a positive climate actually in Albania among the main political factors, to improve the climate towards cooperation, compromise and consensus on the European agenda.

"The visit … gives Albania a double signal, the continuation of the growing interest of the EU to pull Albania towards the EU, but also the direct engagement of the neighboring countries to support this process," Bashkurti told SETimes.

Bashkurti also underlined that it is important for Albania to make it clear that it considers both neighbors in a balanced way. The bilateral co-operation has a lot of changes, there are enough problems and challenges which require to be addressed on a bilateral basis, he said.

"The agenda for the integration of Albania into the EU is an internal need of the Europeinisation of Albania," Bashkurti said.


- Provided by Southeast European Times


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Italy and Greece Ask Albania to Unify on European Agenda | Global Viewpoint