After three years of association talks, the European Union and the Albanian government on Saturday signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement, bringing Albania closer to the club of EU.
EU Commissioner on Enlargement Olli Rehn and Albanian Foreign Minister Besnik Mustafaj inked the agreement on behalf of the EU and the Albanian government, respectively.
Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and the head of European Commission Manuel Barroso attended the ceremony.
In his address after the ceremony, Berisha said the agreement is a roadmap leading Albania to Europe.
"We regard this moment as an obligation as well as an opportunity. We are committed to implementing the agreement to make it a real the nation's dream of integrating into EU, "said Berisha.
In his speech after the ceremony, Barroso congratulated Albania on the success they achieved.
"This is indeed an historical moment on the road of Albania's integration into EU," said Barroso.
Barroso urged the Albanian side to work hard for the implementation of the agreement.
"Another important step, after the signing (of the agreement) in the spring, is the implementation of the agreement," said Barroso.
The EU decided to introduce a Stability Pact, a plan to stabilize the region, for the five Balkan countries, namely Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Bosnia- Montenegro.
Macedonia was the first country to conclude the Stabilization and Association Agreement on April 9, 2001, and it was granted candidate status last December.
Croatia was the second to sign the agreement on Oct. 29, 2001.
Talks on the agreement between Albania and the EU started in January 2003. Final approval of the agreement is to follow at EU summit in Vienna before the end of June.