Venice Commission: Draft-law on Languages Imprecise, needs Changes

The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe adopted a decision in which it recommends the Macedonian government and Parliament to re-examine the text and the implementation of the Draft-law on Languages. “In comparison to the law adopted by the Macedonian Parliament back in 2008, the new law significantly enlarges the usage of the Albanian language and in many aspects overpasses the standards determined with the Framework Convention on protection of national minorities and the European Charter for regional and minority languages. Most disputable are the segments which regulate the use of languages in the judiciary and the judicial institutions, because the way they are in the text, they may endanger the right to fair trial, protected by the European convention on human rights. Besides this, the law text is not precise enough about which regulations are effective when it comes to the use of Albanian language, and which in case of use of other minority languages,” writes the decision of the Venice Commission. The PM Zoran Zaev said in several previous occasions that the government is ready to take into consideration and implement the recommendations of the Venice Commission. “We shall stick to the recommendations of the Venice Commission. The law will undergo a revision by the legal teams at the Justice Ministry, after which it will be sent to the Parliament for further processing and adoption,” PM Zaev stated. At a press conference held on Saturday, the Deputy PM for European Affaris Bujar Osmani said that any attempt for one-sided interventions in the Draft-law on Languages will disturb and distort the balance of the Macedonian-Albanian relations within Macedonia. “For example, we may face a situation in which Constitutional Judges of Macedonian and of Albanian ethnicity vote against each other. We must approach this process in accordance with the Ohrid Framework Agreement (OFA) and include the opinions of all ethnic communities living in North Macedonia, especially the Macedonian and Albanian ones. The Venice Commission is not a supermarket in which you can purchase one product and leave the other. They notify difficulties in the application of the law in the judiciary, but they also express positive opinion of the bilingual banknotes and police and army uniforms. They also do not advise for abolishment of bilingualism in the judiciary, but merely point out that the current capacities are insufficient for its implementation,” Osmani said, suggesting that all recommendations of the Venice Commission should be implemented in form of action plans. Following Osmani’s press conference, PM Zoran Zaev said that the government shall remain dedicated to its concept and pledges for social inclusion of all citizens in the “One Society for All”. “Many beautify things happened in our country in the past 2.5 years. The Draft-law on Languages was one of those things that brought us all together. We sent mutual requests for evaluation to the Venice Commission, and now we shall all together work on the processes for its possible changes and implementation,” PM Zaev said.