Albania applies for EU membership

Albania applies for EU membership Prague - Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha submitted Tuesday his country's application for membership in the European Union, an initial step on Balkan state's long journey to the 27-member bloc. Berisha handed over the application to Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country chairs the EU until June 30.

The Czech Republic's EU presidency is to pass Albania's membership request to the council of the EU member states for consideration.

The EU members are then expected to ask the EU's executive, the European Commission, to assess whether the applicant is ready for the next phase - to become a candidate state. The evaluation process had lasted 14 months for Croatia and 18 months for Macedonia.

The council then decides whether to grant the candidate status and open accession talks. Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey are currently EU membership candidates. (dpa)