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Albania/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.4 Cultural diversity and inclusion policies

Though the Constitution and other laws sanction the rights of ethnic and linguistic minorities, the Ministry of Culture (MTCYS) has not yet launched any initiative or programme to address specific minority groups. This also applies to other forms of positive discrimination. A reason for this could be also the lack of initiatives from minority groups.

Young people have received support through special programmes like the Festival of Young Theatre Directors and the Fund for Young Artists. The former is a series of drama productions involving directors less than 35 years of age and s significant presence of young actors and designers. The later is a support scheme for national institutions that employ young artists, especially newly graduates of the Academy of Arts.

Greeks, Macedonians, Vlachs and Roma are officially recognised cultural groups in Albania. Efforts are being made to add Muslim Bosnians to this list. Some media reports have stressed the fact that there is a growing community of Chinese immigrants.

However, there is no accurate data on their composition and size. The last census in Albania was in 1994, but matters like ethnicity, religion and language were not included.

Article 20 of the Albanian Constitution guarantees the rights of all ethnic minorities in Albania, including the right to preserve and develop their cultural, religious, ethnic and linguistic identity. However, the rights provided by the Albanian Constitution and several international agreements, have not yet translated into cultural policy issues. There is no specific law to support these minority groups, with regard to cultural identity.

Like all Albanian citizens, members of minority groups are free to acquire Albanian citizenship, to give it up or to hold dual citizenship.

Greeks have full minority status in South Albania, especially in the Gjirokastra and Saranda regions, where this community is concentrated. They have the right to education in their mother tongue, from elementary to high school level. The Greek community publish daily papers and have a share of programmes broadcast through public radio.

Since 1991, Greeks are represented in the Albanian Parliament, first by the Omonia Association and then by the Human Rights Union Party. The later has been a member of the left-wing coalition, led by the Socialist Party, in power until 2005, and is now a member of the right-wing coalition led by the Democratic Party (which came into power in 2005).

Many Greek politicians sit on city and county councils within the Gjirokastra and Saranda regions, as well as in the majority of local councils in most parts of the country.

To date, there are no arts programmes specifically targeted to cultural minorities living in Albania. While the Constitution guarantees their rights to, for example, publish literature in their mother tongues, there is no support systems to aid them to do so.

As regards cultural rights, Albania recognises three national minorities (Greek, Macedonian and Serbian-Montenegrin) and two ethno linguistic minorities (Aromanian and Roma). Generally, there prevails a climate of respect and tolerance regarding minority groups. The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions has now entered into force. Albania is endeavouring, within its budgetary limitations, to fulfil its commitments under the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The government signed Memoranda of Understanding with local governments to promote the use of minority languages in relations with the administrative authorities and to display traditional place names in areas inhabited by persons belonging to national minorities. The Albanian Constitution provides that persons belonging to minorities have the right to be taught in their mother tongue in their curricula. Schools for members of the Greek and Macedonian minorities have significantly higher teacher-pupil ratios than the national average. On the other hand, the Ministry of Education and Science issued an instruction allowing Roma children to enrol in schools without being registered.

There are some radio and television operators that broadcast in minority languages, mainly Greek. Greek, Macedonian and Aromanian minorities have their own newspapers. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports supports the publication of a magazine focusing on the culture and social issues of the Roma and organises annual national festivals to promote the cultural heritage of all Albania's minorities. However it remains difficult to include subjects in some minority languages, particularly the Roma language in curricula. Albania has not signed the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages. The number of Roma children in schools has not substantially increased and the literacy rate of the Roma population remains low. The National Strategy for the Improvement of the Roma Living Conditions, approved on 22 March 2005 by the Albanian government, is being implemented. However, Albania is not participating in the 2005-2015 Decade of Roma Inclusion and the implementation of the national Roma strategy is slow and fragmented. Overall, there has been some progress on cultural rights but further improvement is needed. Further actions are required to overcome barriers to minority education, particularly for the Roma minority.

Chapter published: 18-01-2011

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