TIRANA, Albania — The European Union has urged Albania to implement justice reforms, saying it’s “essential” for opening negotiations for its accession to the bloc.

Judicial corruption has plagued post-communist Albania, hampering its democratic processes. Parliament unanimously approved a justice system reform last year to ensure that judges and prosecutors are independent from politics, and to root out bribery.

But implementation of the reform has been delayed after two judges’ associations complained about its implications at the Constitutional Court.

A statement Tuesday from the EU delegation in Tirana said that “vetting of judges and prosecutors … needs to start.”

A day earlier the United States embassy voiced concern “about attempts to weaken the reform to protect corrupt judges and prosecutors.”

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