Investigation 21 Sep 16

Spike in ‘Special Merit’ Citizenships Raises Eyebrows in Albania

The recent awarding of citizenship to six Kosovo politicians has triggered a debate over the Albanian President’s discretionary right to hand out these important privileges.

Fatjona Mejdini
Tirana. Photo: BIRN/Ivana Dervishi

A BIRN investigation can reveal that the number of foreigners - mostly from Kosovo - who gained Albanian citizenship based on the criteria of “special interest” has spiked since Albania obtained visa-free travel to the EU in 2011.

After six members of Vetevendosje - the third party in Kosovo’s parliament in terms of size - recently obtained Albania citizenship, the case was seen as highlighting the lack of clear criteria by which the Albanian President exercises his right to granted such citizenships.

BIRN can also reveal that while some Kosovo Albanians obtained citizenship without meeting any obvious criteria, many foreigners - with an equal or even better right to it - have to wait far beyond the legal deadline to resolve their status.

President Bujar Nishani granted the six main leaders of the Vetevendosje [Self Determination] party in Kosovo Albanian citizenship on August 8.

The decision was not announced on the official web page of the President’s office, as other decrees on citizenships usually are.

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