ON 13 JULY, ALBANIA WAS FORMALLY admitted to the Council of Europe as the organization's 36th member state. Following unanimous assembly approval of its membership on 29 June, the Balkan country was allocated four seats in the CE Parliamentary Assembly. Like other former communist countries, Albania recognizes that accession to the CE is important for demonstrating its progress toward becoming a democratic state. The government also views council membership as the first step on the long road to inclusion in other European institutions and hopes that membership will help the country gain further political and economic support from Western European institutions and states.

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