Germany backs Albania's EU admission

Feb. 23, 2013 at 6:57 PM

TIRANA, Albania, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Germany's foreign minister said he supports Albania's bid for European Union membership but cautioned against nationalist rhetoric that could hurt the process.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle visited the Albanian capital Tirana and told Prime Minister Sali Berisha that Albania is close to demonstrating the necessary general qualifications -- a functional democratic government, independent judiciary and stable economy -- for EU inclusion, Deutsche Welle reported Saturday. But Westerwelle said sentiments like those Berisha expressed last year about uniting all Albanians under a common flag run contrary to the EU's purpose.

The speech, which the U.S. State Department also condemned at the time, was seen as a provocation by neighboring countries such as Macedonia, Greece, Montenegro and Serbia where there are large ethnic Albanian minorities, and Kosovo which has a majority of ethnic Albanians.

"The common goal of all the states in the region is, one day, to be part of the European Union, where we have freedom of movement for everybody," Westerwelle said. "That is why a redrawing of national boundaries is out of the question, including the Balkans. In Europe, borders are losing their significance."

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