Faik Nika, the president of the Albanian National Council, said on Friday that the Albanian government will give financial support for the first time to assist the running of his organisation and its office in the municipality of Plav.
Nika told Montenegrin media the Albanian government has recently made three very important decisions for the Albanian community in Montenegro.
“They made the decision to abolish work permits for Albanians from Montenegro working in Albania. There is also the decision to open an Albanian consulate in the [Albanian-majority] municipality of Ulcinj and the decision to financially support the National Council of Albanians in Montenegro,” he said.
“This is the result of intensive cooperation between the Albanian National Council, the Albanian Embassy in Podgorica and the government of Albania,” he added.
The Albanian National Council was established in 2008 and, like other national councils representing the interests of minorities in the country, is financed from the Montenegrin state budget.
A report by the Montenegrin government’s Ministry for Human and Minority rights in 2018 said the state gave 600,000 euros in financial support to the country’s three national councils (Albanian, Bosniak and Serbian).
Under Montenegrin law, the national councils are independent bodies, mostly funded by the state to promote the cultural heritage of the Albanian, Bosniak and Serbian ethnic communities.
Albanian Foreign Minister Gent Cakaj said on Friday that the National Council plays a substantial role in the representation and empowerment of Albanians in Montenegro.
“The government of Albania’s decision to support the Albanian National Council is not an isolated and individual act. This act marks only the start of the government’s programme to undertake periodic funding and systematic support for the Albanian National Council in Montenegro,” Cakaj wrote on Facebook.
The Albanian government scrapped work permits for Albanians from Montenegro and North Macedonia in May, so they have the same rights to work in the country as Albanians from Kosovo and Serbia’s Presevo Valley.
Cakaj said at the time that it was part of a wider package of measures that Albania has planned to bring ethnic Albanians in the region closer together.
Ethnic Albanians make up about five per cent of the population of Montenegro, and they form the majority in the Tuzi area and much of south-western Montenegro.