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2.5.2013 | Von:
Julie Vullnetari

Citizenship

The beginnings

As part of the Ottoman Empire, Albanians were ruled by the Ottoman legislation until the proclamation of the independent state of Albania in 1912. The first document to legislate Albanian citizenship was the country's first constitution, adopted in 1914.[1] Citizenship was determined by a combination of birth and residence, dual citizenship being prohibited. The next piece of legislation was the law of 1929 passed as a chapter of the Civil Code of the Kingdom of Albania. Dual citizenship was once again prohibited and citizenship was acquired by birth – but only through the male lineage, by naturalization following a period of residence, and by royal decree.

The communist years

A new citizenship law was passed by the communist government in 1946 whereby citizenship was acquired by descent, by birth in Albania, by naturalization and by international treaties. Certain provisions facilitated its acquisition by individuals of Albanian ethno-cultural origin. Through a number of stipulations regarding the loss of citizenship, the law was used as a weapon against the government's enemies. Thus, Albanian citizenship could be removed from Albanian citizens living abroad who were considered to cause damage to the national and state interests of the People's Republic of Albania (PRA) or had done so during WWII. The follow-up decree of 1954 gave enhanced powers to the Presidium of the People's Assembly in relation to the acquisition, release and removal of citizenship.[2]

The early 1990s

Dual citizenship was introduced for the first time in a short presidential decree of 1992 which was later turned into a law in the same year. It was aimed at facilitating acquisition of Albanian citizenship by 'aliens of Albanian nationality and origin'. Three main groups benefited from it:
  • Albanians of the former Yugoslavia who wanted to acquire Albanian citizenship without losing their former one;
  • Albanians – especially those opposed to the communist regime – who had lost their Albanian citizenship during communism;
  • and the post-1990s diaspora.
In addition, the Charter on Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms adopted in 1993 stipulated that the citizenship could not be revoked without the consent of the individual.

The law on citizenship of 1998

In 1998 a new constitution – the first proper post-communist one - and a new law on citizenship were passed. Thus, automatic acquisition of Albanian citizenship from a child born to at least one Albanian parent became a constitutional right and citizenship is not lost without the citizen's consent.[3] The law on citizenship in particular addresses a number of concerns related to migrants abroad.[4] First, it allows dual citizenship (article 3). Second, the law makes provisions for reducing statelessness by enabling individuals who have lost Albanian citizenship to re-acquire it. Third, migrants' children born abroad are able to acquire Albanian citizenship automatically through birth if at least one parent is an Albanian citizen. Finally, foreign spouses of Albanian migrants who wish to gain Albanian citizenship may do so through acquisition by facilitated naturalization, subject to meeting relevant requirements, two of which are a marriage of at least three years and continuous legal stay in Albania of at least one year. Certain requirements for naturalization are waved in cases of stateless persons or individuals of a scientific, economic, cultural or national interest. Table 9 provides cumulative figures on the acquisition and loss of Albanian citizenship from 1992 until 8 February 2013.

The law is considered to be in harmony with EU regulations – an important step in Albania's aspiration to eventually join the EU as a full member.[5] Nevertheless, in practice implementation has been problematic and civil society actors have raised concerns that marginalized communities such as the Roma may be lacking access to basic citizenship rights due to relatively considerable levels of statelessness, resulting from failure to register newborn children with the relevant authorities.[6]

Table 9: Selected data on acquisition and loss of Albanian citizenship, 1992-2013
Year19921992-19971991-20071992-2007200220122013
Sources: Office of the President of Albania data in Sorraj (2007: 36-38, 41) cited in Krasniqi (2012: 9-13); also www.president.al, last visited 8 February 2013.
Acquisition1,1072,5303,184n.a.n.a.36735
Lossn.a.668n.a.4,9491,10512890

Fußnoten

1.
This section draws on Krasniqi (2012) unless otherwise referenced.
2.
Decree No. 1874 of 7 June 1954.
3.
Constitution of the Republic of Albania, articles 19 and 92(c).
4.
Law No. 8389 ‘On Albanian citizenship’, Date 5 August 1998. Official Journal: Year 1998, No. 21, p. 845; Date of publication: 8-20-1998.
5.
For a detailed analysis see Krasniqi (2012).
6.
Krasniqi (2012).
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