Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, but was conquered by Italy in 1939 and occupied by Germany in 1943. Communist partisans took over the country in 1944. Albania allied itself first with the USSR (until 1960), and then with China (to 1978). In the early 1990s, Albania ended 46 years of communist rule and established a multiparty democracy. The transition has proven challenging as successive governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, widespread corruption, dilapidated infrastructure, powerful organized crime networks, and combative political opponents. Albania has made progress in its democratic development since first holding multiparty elections in 1991, but deficiencies remain. Albania joined NATO in April 2009 and in June 2014 became a candidate for EU accession. Albania in November 2016 received a European Commission recommendation to open EU accession negotiations conditioned upon implementation of a judicial reform package passed the same year. Although Albania's economy continues to grow, it has slowed, and the country is still one of the poorest in Europe. A large informal economy and an inadequate energy and transportation infrastructure remain obstacles. Life for Relief and Development had Supplied emergency food and medical aid to Kosovo refugees in 1999.