EU: Italy and 7 EU States call for Albanian EU candidacy

Joint letter to Lithuanian presidency, EU chief diplomat Ashton

16 December, 17:48

    (ANSAmed) - BRUSSELS, DECEMBER 16 - Italy and seven other EU member States on Monday called on the EU Council to grant Albania accession candidate status. In a letter to the Lithuanian rotating presidency and to EU High Foreign Affairs Commissioner Catherine Ashton, the foreign ministers of Italy and Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland and Slovenia said they are ''strongly'' convinced that Albania has complied with ''all the conditions made by the European Union''.

    The letter pointed to Albania's fight against organized crime and corruption, its free and fair elections, and a positive recommendation from the European Commission.

    Granting candidate status ''would not only encourage Albania to continue working hard and keep up the rhythm of reform, it would also send a strong signal to other current and potential candidates that hard work will be rewarded'', the letter said. Albania is on the agenda at the EU General Affairs Council on Tuesday. The climate towards the Balkan country ''has improved'' over last year, but a decision on candidacy will likely be held off until the first half of 2014, EU sources said. Countries still opposed are Denmark, France, Germany, Holland and the UK. The Dutch parliament has asked Prime Minister Mark Rutte to veto the candidacy.(ANSAmed).

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