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.
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.
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.
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.
Table 9: Selected data on acquisition and loss of Albanian citizenship, 1992-2013
Sources: Office of the President of Albania data in Sorraj (2007: 36-38, 41) cited in Krasniqi (2012: 9-13); also Externer Link: www.president.al, last visited 8 February 2013.