TIRANA, May 20 (Xinhua) -- "Albania has met all the conditions for opening accession negotiations" with the European Union (EU), European Council President Charles Michel said here on Friday at a joint press conference with Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama.
On an official visit to Albania, Michel reiterated that "accession talks should start as soon as possible."
"Innovative ways of thinking and innovative ways of working" are needed to create "new incentives for reform and accelerate European integration," he said. The EU is "accelerating integration now rather than waiting until accession negotiations are fully completed," Michel said.
Michel said the following weeks will be crucial for the EU member countries to decide on Albania's future steps toward EU integration.
Rama said that they also discussed the situation in Ukraine, neighboring North Macedonia's EU accession prospects and the Open Balkans initiative.
According to Rama, Albania has taken significant steps in reforming its justice system, adding that the country was "on the right path."
He said that Albania identifies with the EU's stance on the conflict in Ukraine.
He said he hoped that Bulgaria would "give up" its veto that blocks North Macedonia's, and consequently also Albania's, EU integration before the EU-Western Balkans meeting to be organized in coordination with the French Presidency of the EU Council in June.
Rama said that if the EU does not set a date for the start of membership talks with Tirana before June, Albania would call on the EU member states to consider the separation of its accession talks from those with North Macedonia.
The European Parliament urged the EU Council on Thursday in Brussels to open membership negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.
Members of the European Parliament commended Albania's unwavering commitment to EU integration and adopted the 2022 annual report on Albania with 519 votes in favor, 52 against and 28 abstentions. ■