Albanian President Ilir Meta (R) shakes hands with visiting President of the European Parliament (EP) David Sassoli in Tirana, Albania, Feb. 3, 2020. The European Parliament (EP) strongly supports the opening of accession talks of Albania with the European Union (EU), EP President David Sassoli said here on Monday. (Xinhua/Zhang Liyun)
TIRANA, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- The European Parliament (EP) strongly supports the opening of accession talks of Albania with the European Union (EU), EP President David Sassoli said here on Monday.
At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Edi Rama, Sassoli, who is paying a two-day official visit to Albania, told reporters that the membership process should resume despite the slowdown at the end of last year.
"We understand the disappointment of Albanian citizens for the 'non-decision' of the EU member countries, but we have seen that Albanian society still sees hope with the EU. There was a slowdown at the end of last year, but the membership process has to resume. We are convinced that it was only a delay," emphasized Sassoli.
Sassoli declared that Albania and North Macedonia deserve to open negotiations with the EU, adding that both countries have made huge progress in line with the EU expectations.
According to Sassoli, the EP's only objective that applies to Albania and other Western Balkan countries is to reconcile geographical space with the political space.
"Albania's membership process is really important and strategic and as necessary as the other membership processes involving the Western Balkan countries," Sassoli added.
Last year, said Sassoli, the EP had a positive decision on Albania, but this decision needs unanimity of all member states.
Albania responded positively to the skepticism of some EU countries with its reforms, said the EP president, voicing the hope that Europe will "get the accession process started as soon as possible."
Rama called President Sassoli "a long-standing friend of Albania and Albanians and supporter of the enlargement process and Albania's full integration into the EU."
He told reporters that Albania deserved the opening of negotiations.
"The 'no' answer given to Albania has nothing to do with us... We are trying to get into this family and we are still doing our job. No country has done more than we did before opening the negotiations," Rama added.
Sassoli also met with Albanian President Ilir Meta, Parliament Speaker Gramoz Ruci. He is expected to meet opposition party leaders on Tuesday.