Albania has signed a pre-membership agreement with the European Union.
The deal, signed Monday in Luxembourg, sets the framework for detailed political and economic negotiations required for Albania's eventual entry into the 25-nation European trading bloc.
In a statement, the EU urged Albania to use the so-called Stabilization and Association agreement to "push ahead with its reform agenda."
The statement points to what it says are needed Albanian improvements in property restitution, minority rights, press freedoms and governance. It also acknowledges what it calls "encouraging steps" by the Tirana government to combat corruption and organized crime.
The EU signed similar pre-membership deals with the Balkan nations of Croatia and Macedonia in 2001.