Bulgaria to back visa liberalisation for Albania, Mladenov says

Bulgaria will support European visa liberalisation for Albania, Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov said during a May 14 2010 visit to Tirana at the close of his six-country tour of the Western Balkans.

Mladenov visited Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania with messages of support for the European integration of the Western Balkans and Bulgaria’s willingness to share it experiences in assisting this process.

In the Albanian capital Tirana, Mladenov had talks with foreign minister and deputy prime minister Ilir Meta, discussing the issue of Albania’s progress in rule of law and the fight against organised crime and corruption.

Mladenov also met president Bamir Topi and the speaker of Albania’s parliament Josefina Topalli, as well as opposition leader Edi Rama.

In Tirana, the past two weeks have seen large-scale protests, the latest in a campaign by the opposition against the 2009 elections that resulted in victory for prime minister Sali Berisha.

About 200 opposition socialist party activists have been on hunger strike calling for a recount, and the Tirana rally was in solidarity with them.

The crisis, which involved a several-months long boycott of parliament by the Socialists, has paralysed Albanian politics and is damaging the country’s bid for European Union membership, the BBC said.

Brussels is openly voicing its concern and several bodies, including the Council of Europe, are attempting to mediate between the Democrats and Socialists.

A Foreign Ministry statement quoted Mladenov as saying that Bulgaria did not want to interfere in the domestic affairs of its fellow Nato state. He said that Bulgaria had learnt that political disputes should be resolved in parliament and called on all parties in Albania to resolve the issues on the basis of transparency and the spirit of constitutionalism.

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