TIRANA, ALBANIA —
The U.S. ambassador to Albania warned Tuesday that Washington will take action against politicians who do not vote for a judicial reform agreement, considered key to convincing the European Union to launch membership negotiations with the Balkan country.
Donald Lu said Tuesday that the actions would be "grave and long-term ones.'' He did not elaborate.
"There will be specific negative repercussions from the U.S. on those political leaders who vote against this reform,'' said Lu, speaking in Albanian at a civil society rally at the Parliament offices. He did not give details but said those had been handed to the political parties.
He accused Lulzim Basha, leader of the opposition Democratic Party, of continually changing objections to a draft agreement.
Eight hours of talks late Monday among three negotiators of the main political parties reached no compromise on just one remaining topic.
In an extraordinary meeting on Albania and Turkey Tuesday, the foreign committee of the European Parliament strongly urged Albanian politicians to endorse the package on Thursday, as did Johannes Hahn, the bloc's enlargement commissioner.
Parliamentarians said they would be in intensive telephone calls with Albanian counterparts until Thursday's vote.
The country, which is already a member of NATO, has been working for 18 months to reform its judicial system that has come under fire for corruption and lack of professionalism. Changes being sought in the package include checking the incomes and property holdings of judges and prosecutors, a step seen as helping to root out bribery.
Albania was granted EU candidate status in 2014.
The ruling Socialists need support from some opposition members in the 140-seat Parliament to approve the reforms.