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EU chair Hungary backs Balkans' EU integration: Ambassador

01-18-2011 08:33 BJT

TIRANA, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- Hungary has said that it will focus on helping the countries of the Western Balkans advance their agenda and step closer to their membership of the European Union during its six month of the EU presidency until June.

"The Western Balkans will be in the focus of the Presidency in the context of the policy of enlargement; Hungary will support all countries in the region towards the European integration," Hungary 's Ambassador to Albania, Sandor Molnari, told the Albanian Foreign Minister Edmond Haxhinasto on Monday.

Molnari handed over to Haxhinasto the program of the Hungarian presidency and presented its four priorities for the January-June period. The EU has confirmed its doors remain open for the countries of the Western Balkans, but it wants them first to carry out reforms to make their democracy and rule of law function well.

One of the priorities of the Hungarian Presidency will be to end negotiations on membership with Croatia, the richer country in the Balkans which has left behind its neighbours on the EU path. Montenegro and Macedonia have also been awarded candidate status, while Albania, Serbia and Bosnia have yet to get it.

Haxhinasto said Albania's coalition government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha's Democratic Party and its junior partner the Socialist Integration Movement led by Ilir Meta, of which Haxhinasto is the deputy leader, are fully committed to advancing their European agenda, aiming to receive the status of candidate country and open negotiations for membership.

The European Union turned down Albania's request for candidate status, which Albania made in April during the Czech presidency, mainly because of its prolonged political crisis over the 2009 elections and the unsatisfactory fight against corruption.

Those were two among 12 issues the European Commission told Albania to improve. Molnari said half of those points were related to "the political normality requiring political forces to cooperate together in the context of parliament.

In earlier comments, Molnari has said he hopes the ruling Demcoratic Party of Prime Minister Sali Berisha and the opposition Socialist Party led by Edi Rama can solve the deadlock over the June 2009 parliamentary elections before the local government elections on May 9. The Socialists accused the Democrats of electoral fraud.

"Otherwise, we shall have the same picture next October when the European reporters will formulate the new progress report (on the European agenda). This is not to the service of Albanian citizens," Molnari has told reporters.

"The Albanian government will soon approve its work plan to realize the 12 priorities determined by the European Commission, and will make everything within its capacity to act upon and implement it," Haxhinasto told Molnari.

He did not say whether the government intended to reach those goals within the Hungarian Presidency. Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, a backer of Albania's government, believes a review of Albania's status can happen this autumn.

Haxhinasto added the Albanian opposition Socialist Party should also cooperate if it wants the integration of Albanian citizens in the EU. The government blames the Socialists boycott of parliament and their politics for the failure of its EU application for candidate status.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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