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Macedonia's Albanian-Language Bill Becomes Law

Macedonian parliament speaker Talat Xhaferi (file photo)

A bill expanding the official use of the Albanian language has been published in Macedonia's official gazette, making it law.

The legislation was published on January 15 after being signed by parliament speaker Talat Xhaferi, an ethnic Albanian.

Xhaferi bypassed President Gjorge Ivanov, who had been legally obliged to sign off on the text after parliament approved it twice in separate sessions last year.

Ivanov said the bill was unconstitutional and unnecessary.

Ethnic Albanians make up around a quarter of Macedonia's 2 million people.

Under the legislation, Macedonian continues to be the primary official language.

But Albanian, which has until now been an official language only in areas where the minority makes up at least 20 percent of the population, will be used more widely under the new legislation.

The measure boosts the use of the language at the national level, including in administrative, health, judicial, police, and other official matters.

Elected representatives were already allowed to use Albanian in parliament, and under the new law the speaker is allowed to speak and lead sessions in that language.

With reporting by AP