European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi (L) speaks during a joint press conference with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in Tirana, Albania, Jan. 16, 2020. Albania is ready to open accession negotiations with the European Union (EU), European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi said here on Thursday at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Edi Rama. (Xinhua/Zhang Liyun)
TIRANA, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Albania is ready to open accession negotiations with the European Union (EU), European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi said here on Thursday at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Edi Rama.
Varhelyi, who is on his first official visit to Tirana, said that Albania aims to open accession negotiations before the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb scheduled for May this year.
"The previous report of the European Commission continues to be valid. Albania is ready to open negotiations with EU and we want this to happen before the Zagreb summit," Varhelyi said.
The EU commissioner recognized the country's accomplishments on justice reform and urged the government to continue with the reforms, stressing that "there can be no progress without the support of all political parties."
"However, there are still challenges. Albania has to do more to fight organized crime and corruption," he said.
Rama said that he discussed with Varhelyi Albania's integration process and they exchanged views on the steps ahead.
"We will do everything in our power to guarantee the further progress of reforms, as required by the EU. We will do this for the future of the country and of our children," Rama said.
He said that whatever decision the European Council will take, his government will continue to roll out reforms.
Rama and Varhelyi confirmed that on Feb. 17 the EU will host in Brussels an international donors' conference to support the reconstruction efforts in Albania after the strong earthquake that hit the country on Nov. 26 last year.
On Thursday, Varhelyi, accompanied by Rama, paid a visit to the port city of Durres, one of the areas most affected by the quake.
During his official visit to Albania, Varhelyi will also meet President Ilir Meta and Speaker of Parliament Gramoz Ruci.
In October last year, the bid by Albania and North Macedonia to open EU accession negotiations was blocked due mainly to France's opposition. Paris justified its decision with the need for the EU to develop a new accession methodology.
Asked by journalists to comment on France's position, Rama said this was an "internal EU discussion."