More than 100 people gathered in front of FYROM’s (Macedonia’s) parliament to protest against a draft law to extend the official use of Albanian language to the entire country, as lawmakers started debating the bill.
The September 13 protest in Skopje was organized by the nationalist organization Tvrdokorni (Hard-core), the World Macedonian Congress, and several other groups.
Holding banners reading slogans such as “Betrayal is not democracy,” the participants urged the government to withdraw the bill.
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has promised to bring in the law when he struck a coalition deal with Albanian parties earlier this year.
If adopted, the proposed law would mainly ease communication in Albanian with institutions such as municipalities, hospitals, and courts.
It has sparked much criticism from the VMRO DPMNE party and others, which have accused Zaev of betraying Macedonia’s national interests.
The current law on languages defines Albanian as an official language, but it has that status only in areas where ethnic Albanians make up at least 20 percent of the population.
Albanians make up about a quarter of Macedonia’s total population of more than 2 million. They are concentrated in the country’s north and west.