EU hails Albanian political parties' deal

The European Union is hailing the political agreement in Albania "as a crucial first step" and is urging its political parties and the government to quickly start preparations for the June 25 parliamentary election.

In a statement Friday, the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn congratulate the political parties for the agreement. "Now, this agreement must be swiftly implemented to prepare elections in line with international standards," they said in a statement.

"The political leaders have responded to their citizens' expectations and showed democratic maturity," they added.

Albania's political parties reached a compromise Thursday, postponing next month's parliamentary election by a week following intensive talks mediated by a senior U.S. official and also EU officials.

Prime Minister Edi Rama of the governing Socialist Party agreed to give seven ministerial and other top posts, and unlimited access to election material, to the main opposition Democratic Party of Lulzim Basha.

Since February, the opposition boycotted the parliament and had not registered for the parliamentary election, claiming Rama's Cabinet would manipulate the vote. They asked for Rama's resignation and a caretaker government.

Parliament, which dissolved earlier this month as required by the constitution ahead of a general election, will convene in extraordinary sessions to vote for the steps required by the political agreement.

The agreement also included a vote to relaunch the judicial reform and create the vetting bodies that will evaluate the backgrounds of around 800 judges and prosecutors.

"We reiterate the importance of a solid and credible implementation of the vetting process, which is key for progress toward EU membership. We will continue supporting Albania and the legitimate aspirations of its people for a better future," said Mogherini and Hahn.

Brussels considers this step, which was blocked by the opposition boycott, as key in the country's integration steps.

Senior EU official Christian Danielsson, who was visiting Tirana Friday, also stressed the importance of starting the vetting process.

Albania is waiting for Brussels to agree to launch membership negotiations.