News 05 Dec 12

Albania to Offer Citizenship to Ethnic Brethrens

Prime Minister Sali Berisha announced on Tuesday that the government intends to offer a speedy path to citizenship to ethnic Albanians across the world.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana
Albania PM Sali Berisha

“This bill will be a government initiative as part of the centennial [celebrations],” Berisha declared in Vlora, the city from which Albania's independence was proclaimed in 1912.

“The law will offer speedy citizenship to every Albanian who applies, no matter where he is,” he added.   

Albania last week celebrated the 100th anniversary of its declaration of independence from the Ottoman Empire.

Ethnic Albanians do not enjoy particular benefits or positive discrimination when it comes to getting citizenship of Albania. Apart from exceptional cases, they have to reside in the country for more than five years before applying, like everyone else.

The citizenship offer will be particularly attractive to Kosovo Albanians, as Kosovo is the only country in the Balkans that does not have a visa-free regime with the EU's Schengen area. Kosovars with Albanian citizenship will therefore find it easier to travel to the EU.

With the June 2013 parliamentary elections approaching, Berisha has tried to re-invent himself as a super-patriot.

A series of statements over the last week have angered some of Albania’s neighbours by appearing to suggest he advocates a big Albania that includes majority-Albanian areas beyond Albania's borders.

“There is a phobia against Albanians in the region and this will disappear only through national unification,” Berisha said recently.

“We should take up all measures for Albanians to feel united and tear down the wall that divides them,” he concluded.

As a consequence of the Balkan wars of 1912/13, and the subsequent arrangement of borders in the Balkans, large numbers of Albanians live beyond the country's borders in neighbouring Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

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