Albanian Parliament adopts the law “On national minorities”

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The Parliament of the Republic of Albania adopted on Friday, October 13, 2017 with 102 votes in favor, 10 against and 1 abstention the Law “On the Protection of National Minorities in the Republic of Albania”. The law received the support of the parliamentary majority and opposition, confirming the advancing of rights and freedoms of national minorities through the necessary legal arrangements in this area.
With this Law, both the definition of the national minority as well as their official and legal recognition in the Republic of Albania were determined for the first time. A national minority by definition is a group of Albanian citizens residing in the territory of the Republic of Albania, have early and lasting links with the Albanian state, exhibit distinctive cultural, ethnic, linguistic, religious or traditional characteristics and who are willing to express, preserve and develop together their distinct cultural, ethnic, linguistic, religious or traditional identities. According to this notion and based on the latest results of population and housing census, this law acknowledges the existence of the following national minorities: Greeks, Macedonians, Serbs, Bosnians, Vlachs, Montenegrins, Egyptians, Roma and Bulgarians.
The law defines the right of every person to be declared as such (Article 6), the obligation of state bodies at central and local level to collect data based on the right of self-identification of these persons (Article 7) and contains provisions on the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity (Article 8). In addition to the general provisions on freedom of association and the practice and expression of religious beliefs for minorities, the law stipulates that state bodies will also take measures to preserve their culture, traditions and mother tongue. On the other hand, the law defines the right of minorities in administrative units where they traditionally live or have significant presence, to learn their native language. The criteria for opening classes, teaching and those related to the number of students are defined by CM decision , following the competent Minister’s proposal.
Among other rights, minorities have the right to establish their printed, electronic and visual media, but also to be represented with language programming and news and actualities in one the state television stations. The law also provides for the right of national minorities to use their mother tongue in relation to administrative authorities and the establishment of topographic tables and inscriptions in those local government units where their number is 20% of the population of that unit.
In addition to the rights granted, the law stipulates that the Republic of Albania may conclude international agreements with other States to ensure the protection of persons belonging to the respective national minorities.
This law establishes the State Committee on National Minorities in which every minority will have its member, which will be approved by the Prime Minister after considering the candidacies sent by each association. The Committee will continue to have a consultative and monitoring role on the work of state bodies covering issues of national minorities. The Committee shall, among other things, manage the Fund for National Minorities, a fund to be set up to support initiatives and projects aimed at protecting the rights of national minorities, and preserving and promoting distinct cultural, ethnic, linguistic identity, traditional and religious rights of national minorities.

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