Parliament adopts law on use of languages

Skopje, 11 January 2018 – Macedonia’s Parliament on Thursday adopted the Law on the Use of Languages. 69 MPs voted in favor of the law.

The law was passed by a double majority, i.e. 27 deputies of minority communities voted for the law with one being in abstention.

The debate on the law on languages kicked off in Parliament on 5 September 2017 at the parliamentary committee on European affairs. On November 15, the parliamentary majority endorsed the need of passing the law.

The opposition party VMRO-DPMNE was against the law describing it as ‘unconstitutional and discriminatory against the Macedonian languages and the remaining languages spoken by the citizens in Macedonia.’

The law was passed with VMRO-DPMNE lawmakers being absent from today’s session. They have said they won’t be taking part in any activity in Parliament as a sign of revolt against the arrest of five opposition MPs along some 30 citizens for their involvement in the incidents in Parliament on 27 April 2017.

President Gjorge Ivanov also argued against the law in his annual year-end address in Parliament. According to him, the law on languages represents a threat to the unitary character of the country and breaches the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia.

During the debate, MPs of the ruling majority argued that the law was part of Macedonia’s EU integration path and that it, in no way, breached the Constitution or the unitary character of the country.

PM Zoran Zaev on several occasions has reiterated that the law on languages was in compliance with the Constitution and that it was designed to advance some practical needs of the citizens.

An elaboration of the Ministry of Justice notes the law foresees that in all state bodies in Macedonia, central institutions, public enterprises, agencies, directorates, institutions and organizations, commissions, legal entities, an official language – in addition to Macedonian and its alphabet – should be also the language used by 20% of the citizens of Macedonia and its alphabet (Albanian language).