The European Union is urging Albania to complete a package of judicial reforms if it wants to launch full membership talks with the bloc.
Referencing Albania's upcoming appearance in soccer's European Championship in France, the EU's top official for enlargement Johannes Hahn, said in a statement Tuesday that "the coming days will be decisive whether Albania will advance in the Euro Championship or stays in the group stage."
The EU and the U.S. have helped Tirana draft the reform package, which is considered key to fighting corruption at all levels, especially the judiciary. Albania's Parliament is being pressured to pass the judicial reform bill by the end of the month in order to convince Brussels to authorize membership negotiations.
However, there are divisions within Parliament.
The Socialist-led governing coalition of Prime Minister Edi Rama does not have enough votes in the 140-seat Parliament to reach a two-thirds majority needed for some constitutional amendments in the package.
Despite regular visits from the EU and U.S. ambassadors, the main opposition Democratic Party of Lulzim Basha has resisted giving final approval to the draft.
Hahn urged all parties "to place the interest of their country and citizens above their individual interests and find compromises."
"A swift adoption of the reform and its consequent implementation is now key," said Hahn. "This would not only respond to the overwhelming public support in Albania for reforming the justice system but would also signal a clear commitment to European standards and European integration process."
Albania kicks off its appearance at the European Championship on June 11 against Switzerland. It's the country's first appearance in a major football competition.