US Urges Albania, Macedonia To Implement Reforms As EU Green Lights Accession Talks

US Urges Albania, Macedonia to Implement Reforms as EU Green Lights Accession Talks

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 27th March, 2020) Economic reforms and anti-corruption progress will lead the United States to continue its "unwavering support" with Albania and Macedonia and deepen a strategic partnership with them now that the European Union has tentatively given a green light for accession talks to begin, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a press release on Thursday.

"Both nations must remain committed to their respective reform agendas, and the United States will continue its unwavering support for their efforts in this regard," Pompeo said.

Pompeo pledged that the United States will remain a steadfast partner as both governments undertake the necessary reforms to strengthen the rule of law, further anti-corruption efforts, grow their economies, and enhance the fight against organized crime.

Earlier this week, EU ministers tentatively approved initial membership talks with Macedonia and Albania, albeit with an uncertain timetable due to a number of reasons, including the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to media reports.

Albania and Macedonia have been severely criticized by international, regional and local organizations and pundits for widespread corruption and crime as well as an effective absence of the rule of law.

The government of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in Macedonia was installed in power by the United States and the European Union despite losing the 2016 elections and after Washington conducted a "color revolution" to topple the democratically-elected government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

The vast majority of Macedonians have rejected EU and NATO membership in a September 30, 2018 referendum. The World Macedonian Congress has said the Zaev government and it actions, particularly regarding NATO and EU membership, are illegal.

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