Samir Kajosevic Podgorica BIRN May 14, 2019
Ethnic Albanians who live in Montenegro and North Macedonia no longer need to apply for permits to work in Albania - part of a government initiative to boost ties between Albanians in the region.
Albanian PM Edi Rama. Photo: EPA/Filip Singer
Starting this week, Ethnic Albanians from Montenegro and North Macedonia now have the same access to jobs in Albania as locals, according to a decision made by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s cabinet, which was made public on Monday.
“Albanians from Montenegro and North Macedonia will enjoy the right to employment, just as Albanian citizens do, except when employment is specifically related to Albanian citizenship, in accordance with applicable legislation,” the Ministry of Finance and Economy said in a statement.
Albanian Foreign Minister Gent Cakaj said that the decision, which was officially approved on May 10, means that Albanians from Montenegro and North Macedonia now have the same rights to work in the country as Albanians from Kosovo and Serbia’s Presevo Valley area.
The Albanian government scrapped work permits for Albanians from Kosovo and the Presevo Valley in May 2014.
“Although it may look like a move without immediate impact or sounds like a completely symbolic initiative, this is a necessary step towards increasing ties with Albanians in neighbouring countries without differentiation [on grounds of citizenship],” Chakaj wrote on Facebook on Monday.
He added that the decision was part of a wider package of measures that Albania has planned to bring ethnic Albanians in the region closer together.
Ethnic Albanians make up about five per cent of the population of Montenegro, and they form the majority in the Tuzi area and much of south-western Montenegro.
While overall unemployment in Montenegro is around 16 per cent, the figure is closer to 20 per cent in areas such as Tuzi and Ulcinj, which are home to most of the country’s ethnic Albanians.
Only 2.8 per cent of the jobs on the state’s payroll are held by ethnic Albanians, according to a government report on the state’s employment of minorities, published in June 2011.
Albanians are the largest ethnic minority in North Macedonia, where they make up around a quarter of the population of two million, according to the 2002 national census.
Some estimates suggest that some 200,000 ethnic Albanianas from North Macedonia have left the country to work abroad, seeking better economic conditions.