Pavlo Jakoja, the president of the ‘Moraça-Rozafa’ Serbian ethnic minority association has demanded that a Serbian-language school is opened in Shkodra. He estimated that there are 27,500 Serb-Montenegrins in Albania.
The statement came on the date of Orthodox Christmas, 7 January, and while governments of Albania, Serbia and North Macedonia have launched the “Balkan mini Schengen” initiative.
In the last census in Albania from 2011 only 366 people declared themselves as Montenegrin. Whilst many members of ethnic minorities boycotted the census, there is no reliable information on the exact number of Serbian minority in Albania. The next census is scheduled for 2021.
When challenged on the number he stated by journalists, Jakoja said that minorities are scared and do not declare. He did not indicate whether there had been any incidents against Serbian minority members in Albania.
Albania recognizes 8 ethnic minorities: Greek, Macedonian, Aromanian, Roma, Egyptian, Montenegrin, Bosnian, Serbian and Bulgarian.
Art.13 of the Law 96/2017 on Protection of Minorities stipulates that the Albanian government can decide on opening public schools for minorities in their language upon demand by the community. Courses in their native languages are currently provided to Greek and Macedonian minorities in some Albanian public schools.
Jakoja also weighed in on the ‘mini-Schengen’ stating that those who avoid cross-border cooperation do not consider the European perspective of the region.