Merkel assures Albania, Western Balkans of European prospects, urges reforms, tangible results

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has assured Albania and Western Balkan countries there is no artificial delay in their EU entry prospects but says they should deepen reforms to achieve the required standards.

Merkel on Wednesday started a two-day tour of Albania, Serbia and Bosnia focusing on their EU integration progress as well as economic and energy issues.

Albania, which was granted candidate status last year, must fulfill five categories regarding its public administration and justice system ahead of launching full membership talks.

Earlier this week the German government, one of the biggest donors to post-communist Albania, gave 107.5 million euros ($119.3 million) to promote the country's energy and water supply sectors.

The chancellor continues her trip to the Serbian capital, Belgrade, later Wednesday and to Sarajevo, Bosnia, Thursday.