PRAGUE, Czech Republic, April 28 (UPI) --
Albania has formally applied to join the European Union, Prague Radio said Tuesday.
Prime Minister Sali Berisha submitted the application to Mirek Topolanek, prime minister of the Czech Republic, which now holds the rotating presidency of the EU.
Topolanek said Albania has achieved considerable progress but still needs to introduce numerous reforms to meet EU standards.
The European Commission and the Council of the EU must approve the application before an accession process opens.
Political observers in Prague believe it will take Albania, a small Balkan country with a population of 3.2 million, more than five years to become an EU member.
© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.