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EU Demands Albania Thoroughly Reform Judiciary

FILE - European Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner Johannes Hahn addresses a news conference at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Sept. 17, 2015.

The European Union called on Albania Thursday to quickly pass a sweeping reform of the judiciary as the main condition to start EU accession talks.

Visiting EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said in Tirana that the EU’s executive body wanted the reform to pass soon before the Commission gave its opinion to EU member states on starting membership talks with Albania.

"The justice reform is a key element and I think we need a decision before summer break,” he said.

Hahn urged the Albanian government and the opposition to engage in a meaningful political dialog to serve the interest of citizens, adding that EU accession must be a national effort.

Both, the government and the opposition back judicial reform, but the opposition demands the implementation of a new law to exclude anyone with a criminal record from politics.

Albanian Prime Minister has appealed to the opposition to enter into a dialog without preconditions.

Hahn was in Albania to attend the Western Balkans' Foreign Ministers meeting Wednesday and for the Albania-EU High Level Dialogue.

Already a member of NATO, Albania obtained the status of candidate member to join the EU in June 2014.

VOA's Albanian Service contributed to this report