The European Union warned Albania on Friday that months of political stalemate were damaging the country's prospects of joining the bloc.
Albania's opposition Socialist Party, which controls nearly half the seats in parliament, has boycotted the assembly for six months, holding up the passage of laws including many that are needed to align the country with EU legislation.
"A fully functioning parliament is essential to a fully functioning democracy," Stefan Fuele, the European commissioner in charge of enlargement policy, said in a statement released as he arrived in Tirana for talks.
"If the current political stalemate were to persist, it could well prevent Albania from reaching the political standards expected from a country that has applied for EU membership." The former communist state, once Europe's most reclusive country, applied for EU membership last year. EU ministers agreed last November to proceed with its application, but no date has been set for formal membership talks to begin.
The Socialists are demanding an investigation into some of the ballots cast in last year's election, which narrowly handed victory to the Democratic Party of Prime Minister Sali Berisha.
The Socialists say they are not questioning the election outcome, but insist on an investigation of some of the voting as a way of improving Albania's electoral standards.
Using unusually stern language, Fuele said parliamentary boycotts had no place in democratic politics as practised in the 27 countries of the European Union.
"The way ahead should be marked by two fundamental democratic principles: the respect for the constitution and transparency," he said.
"In the interest of their country and its EU integration perspective, Albania's political leaders now need to address this challenge constructively in the EU spirit."
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 20 Mart 2010, 12:25