Tirana - Croatian Parliament Speaker Josip Leko said in Tirana on Tuesday that Albania should be given the status of an EU candidate in June this year because it had made great progress in meeting the membership criteria.
-Albania has long deserved it, and it is in the interest of both Croatia and the EU, said Leko, who is on an official visit to Albania, the Croatian Parliament said in a press release.
Leko said Albania had made major progress and Croatia supported the EU's policy of enlargement to all Southeast European countries in line with their readiness to meet the necessary criteria.
Leko held talks with his Albanian counterpart Ilir Meta, President Bujar Nishani, Prime Minister Edi Rama, and the leader of the Opposition Democratic Party and Tirana Mayor, Lulzim Basha. The Albanian officials said Croatia was an example of successful integration with the EU. It is best for us to learn from Croatia's experience because we have a similar past and are facing the same difficulties in development, Rama said.
Leko and Meta agreed on stronger cooperation between the two parliaments in the transfer of experience in the alignment of national legislation with the EU's. The two countries want to have a closer economic cooperation and support infrastructure projects such as the Trans-Adriatic Gas Pipeline (TAP) and the Ionian-Adriatic Gas Pipeline (IAP) as its possible extension, as well as the construction of an Adriatic-Ionian highway. Tirana is open to Croatian investments, notably in tourism, the energy sector, infrastructure and agriculture, the Albanian officials said.
The senior officials also underlined the good political and military cooperation within NATO and regional cooperation within the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative and the Southeast European Cooperation Process (SEECP). They believe that Kosovo should join the parliamentary dimension of SEECP and that its secretariat should be based in Sarajevo, a topic that will be discussed at the next conference of SEECP parliaments in Bucharest on May 10 and 11. (Hina)