Source Pravda.Ru

Europe and US request Albania's new government to speed up reforms

The European Union and the United States urged Albania's new government to speed up reforms in its efforts to join the EU and NATO.

A letter from the EU presidency delivered by the British Embassy in Tirana urged Albania to begin work "without delay and with genuine commitment on a clear and strong reform agenda" and urged political forces to join together to accelerate the process.

"Tangible progress is required, on strengthening the rule of law and on electoral reform in particular," the letter said.

U.S. President George W. Bush also urged Tirana to fight corruption and create a better business climate.

"Time has come to bring Albania nearer full integration into the Euro-Atlantic community," according to a letter delivered to Prime Minister Sali Berisha from U.S. Ambassador Marcie B. Ries.

Berisha's new government was formally sworn in Sunday after the Cabinet and program were approved a day earlier by a vote of confidence in the 140-seat parliament, following parliamentary elections July 3.

Berisha has pledged to double salaries and pensions, fight corruption, consolidate democratic institutions, end corruption and improve the rule of law as Albania seeks membership in both the European Union and NATO.

The new prime minister said that in 2006, Albania would sign a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU - considered the first step toward possible membership in the bloc - and would become a NATO member within his four-year mandate, the AP reports.