2. Background: Background notes
In 1990 Albania ended 44 years of xenophobic communist rule and established a multiparty democracy. The transition has proven difficult, as corrupt governments have tried to deal with severe unemployment, the collapse of a fraudulent nationwide investment scheme, widespread gangsterism, and massive refugee influxes from neighboring Kosovo.
Independence on November 28, 1912 (from the Ottoman Empire).
A new Constitution has been approved by parliament on October 21, 1998 and adopted by popular referendum on November 28, 1998; it should be noted that the opposition Democratic Party boycotted the vote.
Current international disputes: The Albanian Government supports the protection of the rights of ethnic Albanians outside of its borders but has downplayed them in order to further its primary foreign policy goal of regional cooperation. The Albanian majority in Kosovo is seeking independence from the Serbian Republic. Albanians in The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia claim discrimination in education, access to public-sector jobs, and representation in government.
Updated (August 2002)
The Greek national minority was the first minority recognized by the Albanian State.
The Greek people shared the fate of the majority of the population and suffered the same limitations imposed by the communist regime for almost half of the century. A positive impact in this direction had peaceful atmosphere and the tradition of normal and friendly coexistence, which has prevailed for a long time between the Albanian majority and the Greek minority.
After the 1990s, the number of the Greek national minority in Albania has fallen considerably due to the opening of the borders, and the backwardness and numerous economic difficulties of the transition period in Albania. A good part of the population in southern regions of the country had the chance to get employment and live in Greece. (The Greek government grants visas or stay permits up to 5 years, helps to find a job, in the education for their children, medical treatment, etc). In many villages with mostly Greek population, the number of the emigrants to Greece ranges between 40-70 percent of the total number of inhabitants.
However, generally the democratic changes in Albania over the last decade have brought essential changes also to the position of the Greek national minority. Today this minority enjoys all the rights in compliance with the most liberal European standards and the values, which regulate the life of an open democratic and pluralistic society.
The Macedonian national minority is concentrated in the area of Prespa. This area extends to the southeastern corner of Albania, bordering the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece. There are nine villages of the area of Prespa: Lajthiza, Pusteci, Zaroshka, Cerja, Shulini, Gollomboqi, Gorica e Vogel, Bezmishti and Gorica e Madhe and a village in Devoll. From the administrative point of view, these nine villages in which Macedonian national minority is living, make up a commune called the Commune of Prespa. The center of this Commune is a village Pustec.
The Montenegrin national minority lives mostly in small villages in the area of Vraka (villages Gril, Omaraj, Borici i Vogel) north of the city of Shkodra (in the Northwestern part of Albania). The statistical data on the number of this minority according to the last year’s survey held by the Albanian Helsinki Committee, this minority consists of about 2,000 people and has retained its compactness as a national minority, its native language, culture, religion, traditions, etc.
With the beginning of the democratic processes in Albania, in 1990, almost all Montenegrins left for Montenegro. The economic difficulties and the tensions created in former Yugoslavia urged a part of those who had left to return to their homes in Albania. We may say that about 600 from 2,000 people who moved to Montenegro, have returned to their houses at present. The rest either continues to live in Montenegro (the majority) or has moved to other countries of Western Europe, U.S. or Canada.