Albania has taken its first step towards membership of the European Union. Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement during a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.
The aim is to foster mutually beneficial economic and political relations. Before the collapse of communist rule, the Stalinist state of 3.5 million people was the most reclusive in Eastern Europe. Since 1990, the EU has given Tirana more than a billion euros in development funding. Rehn said the EU welcomed the progress Albania has made, including fighting organised crime, but added the road ahead remains pitted with challenges.
Berisha said Albania was aware of concerns and that “enlargement fatigue” in existing EU member states is expected to slow future expansion down. Yet he promised that untiring efforts would soon place Albania among the region’s safest countries.