Parliamentary Legal Issues Committee Approves New Minority Protection Law

After the approval of the Committee for Foreign Policy, also the Committee for Legal Issues, Public Administration, and Human Rights has approved a draft law proposed by the government for the protection of national minorities.

According to the report of the Legal Issues Committee, at the request of the representatives from the Bulgarian Embassy in Tirana and the Golloborda Bulgarian–Albanian friendship association, Bulgarians have been added to the list of national minorities, which also includes Greeks, Macedonians, Aromanians, Roma, Egyptians, Montenegrins, Bosnians, and Serbians.

The inclusion of the Bulgarian minority in Albania in the list of recognized national minorities is also conform the wishes of the European Parliament, which requested in February that “the rights of people with Bulgarian ethnicity in the Prespa, Golo Brdo and Gora regions” be legally recognized. In a comment, Blagoy Klimov had stated:

We normally tend to avoid including bilateral issues in the progress reports, but this one was of crucial importance. The Bulgarian minority in Prespa, Golo Brdo and Gora is the only non-recognised historic minority in Albania. This is one of the most endangered communities in Albania, since this community of around 50,000 lives dispersed in three non-adjacent areas, belong to two different religions – Muslim and Orthodox – and is the only historic minority that has not been officially recognised even with ethno-linguistic status.

What may also play a role in the sudden inclusion of the Bulgarian minority in the law is the fact that Bulgaria will take the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from January–July 2018, a period crucial for the possible opening of EU accessions talks with Albania.

The inhabitants of Bulgarian minority regions in Albania have been leaving the country in large numbers after acquiring Bulgarian EU passports, for which they are eligible.