The move by the Venice Commission, which examined the constitutionality of Macedonia’s laws, and condemned the law on the use of the Albanian language threw a stark contrast to the corrupt and silent domestic institutions.
The Constitutional Court of Macedonia should be the first to examine the law, which far surpassed the constitutional clauses for using ethnic minority languages. But, due to political pressure and bribes, and the importance of the law to please Zaev’s ethnic Albanian coalition partners, the Constitutional Court didn’t dare touch this issue. In fact, the Court doesn’t seem to exist for several years now.
The law introduces full bilingualism across Macedonia, with the use of the Albanian language equal to that of the Macedonian, despite the constitutional provision regulating that Albanian can be used officially only in municipalities where at least 20 percent of the citizens are Albanian. President Ivanov refused to sign the law, but it was illegally inserted into the Official Gazette anyways.
The issues with the law were all highlighted in the preliminary report of the Venice Commission, a Council of Europe body which is often taken as an honest broker in such matters across Eastern Europe. It warned that the law will severely harm Macedonia’s public administration and judiciary.
The opposition DPNE party initiated a review of the law in January and urged the Constitutional Court to act as soon as possible, given the danger of harmful consequences as the law is being implemented. And yet, almost a year later, the court hasn’t touched the issue.
Several other parties and activists have also challenged the law before the court, pointing in particular to the fact that it is being implemented without a signature from the President. But, with elections coming in 2020, and with Zaev’s ruling SDSM party dependant on ethnic Albanian votes to parry the DPNE, the court seems unlikely to ever look at the piled up cases.