A new draft law on citizenship adopted by the Albanian government, due to be approved by parliament, will allow Albanians living abroad to acquire Albanian citizenship more easily.
The only precondition would be to prove that their ancestors had Albanian citizenship.
“All foreign citizens who can prove that they are related to a person of Albanian nationality up to the third generation will be granted a passport,” Deputy Interior Minister Rovena Voda said on Tuesday.
The individual requesting an Albanian passport should have predecessors up to the third generation of Albanian origin, Voda told Albanian TV station Top Channel.
The potential offer of citizenship will apply only to those applicants whose parents, grandparents or great-grandparents had Albanian citizenship.
The issue is a live topic in Albania owing to the huge number of citizens living abroad – as well as the large of ethnic Albanians living outside the national borders elsewhere in the Balkans.
Of a total of 4.5 million Albanian citizens, the current resident population of the country is estimated at only 2.8 million.
It is believed, therefore, that at least 1.7 million Albanian citizens live abroad. Many of them live in Italy and Greece – the result of recent mass migration over the last three decades since the fall of communism.
Under a decision reached in 2013, Albania declared that all ethnic Albanians would have the right to seek Albanian citizenship on the basis of their ethnicity.
However, this provision excluded neighbouring mainly ethnic Albanian Kosovo, so as not to upset Kosovo’s visa liberalisation process with the EU – which has since stalled.
Only a minority of Kosovo citizens, including top politicians and much of the business elite, have so far managed to circumvent this restriction and acquire “honorary” Albanian citizenship.
The draft law is expected to go to a vote in the Albanian parliament in September, just after the summer recess.