Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, will help Albania join the EU

Albania's new Socialist premier Edi Rama said that Mr Blair would be “personally, totally and voluntarily” advising the Albanian government

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The Independent Online

Tony Blair is to advise Albania, one of the poorest countries in Europe, on its campaign to join European Union, it has been announced.

The former prime minister said he would “love” the ex-Communist country to join the 28-nation bloc. Albania has previously been turned down for EU membership for not doing enough to fight corruption and crime and embrace democratic reforms.

Edi Rama, the Albanian Prime Minister, said Mr Blair would use his “extraordinary experience and political geniality” to “personally, totally and voluntarily” help his government and would not receive a fee. Funding for a team of officials who will work with Mr Blair would be sought from international institutions, he said.

Mr Rama, who pledged to campaign for EU membership before winning a landslide election victory in June, said: “I harbour no illusions. European integration is easy to speak of but very hard to attain.”

Mr Blair, appearing at a joint press conference with Mr Rama in the Albanian capital Tirana, said the EU is the “right and proper” prospect for the country. “The orientation toward Europe is immensely important, and personally I’d love to see this country join the family of European nations,” he said.

Additional reporting by agencies