The Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2005URL (Internet address) : http://www.eu2005.lu/en/actualites/communiques/2005/03/31maealb/
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Jean Asselborn meets Kastriot Islami, Albanian Minister for Foreign Affairs
On 31 March 2005, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Albania, Dr Kastriot Islami, paid a working visit to Luxembourg, where he was welcomed by his Luxembourg counterpart and current President of the Council of the European Union, Jean Asselborn.
The discussions revolved mainly around relations between the European Union and Albania, as well as the general situation in the Western Balkans.
During a joint press conference held after the meeting, Jean Asselborn stated that Europe had given Albania "a very specific perspective." Referring to the European Council of December 2003 in Thessalonica, he described Albania as a "potential candidate for European Union membership." He went on to say that "Albania's progress towards the EU, will depend on the reform potential the country is capable of realising."
According to Jean Asselborn, closer relation between Albania and the European Union will depend on two central criteria: full respect for international norms during the legislative elections to be held in June 2005 and consolidation of the rule of law.
With regard to the elections scheduled for June 2005, the Luxembourg Presidency has received assurances that the irregularities observed during the 2001 and 2003 elections will not be repeated. Jean Asselborn expressed his satisfaction with the close cooperation between the OSCE’s election observation mission and the Albanian authorities in preparing for the election, as well as the electoral law reform and the composition of the voting register. "All parties must also be fairly and equally represented in the media", stated the President of the Council, and added that "Albania is on the right path" towards successfully carrying out the electoral process.
Jean Asselborn stated that consolidating the rule of law in Albania involved continuing the fight against organised crime and corruption, as well as ensuring judicial reforms and a reform of the penal code. "The EU’s task is not to prescribe, but to help train judges, diplomats and civil servants," explained Jean Asselborn.
Touching on the stabilisation process in the Western Balkans, Jean Asselborn underlined Albania's "key role" and moderating influence as "an immediate neighbour of Kosovo."