News 11 Jan 18

Macedonia Passes Albanian Language Law

Macedonian MPs on Thursday adopted an eagerly anticipated law that extends the official use of the Albanian language across the country.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
Macedonia's parliament. Photo: MIA

Macedonia''s new government has honoured its pledge to do more for the country's Albanian minority after 69 of the 120 MPs in parliament voted for a new law on the use of languages.

The law was also adopted by a so-called double majority, meaning that it also obtained the required level of support from most minority ethnic groups MPs as well as MPs generally.

The law extends the official use of Albanian over the entire country, in which ethnic Albanians make up around a quarter of the total population of 2.1 million, easing communication in Albanian with institutions like municipalities, hospitals and courts.

The previous law defined Albanian as an official language, but only gave it that status in those areas where Albanians make up over 20 per cent of the local population.

The new provision is seen as the last legal remaining provision stemming from the 2001 peace deal that ended an armed conflict between Albanian insurgents and Macedonian forces.

The law was adopted in the absence of MPs from the main opposition right-wing VMRO DPMNE party.

The opposition, which previously claimed that such law would jeopardize the country’s national interests, in a press release issued after the law's adoption repeated its claim that the law was “unconstitutional”.

The opposition also claimed that its adoption in parliament was “fraudulent”, accusing the government majority of falsely presenting this legislation as an EU-sought reform.

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