Macedonians protest bill to make Albanian second language

January 21, 2018 GMT

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Hundreds of people have gathered in Macedonia’s capital to protest a bill that would make Albanian the country’s second official language.

The protest in front of the parliament building in Skopje on Sunday was peaceful, although participants burned the European Union flag.

The bill would give ethnic Albanians, who make up about one-quarter of Macedonia’s 2.1 million population, the right to use their language, along with Macedonian, in all transactions with state institutions.

The groups that organized the protest — Macedonian Unity Force and “Hardcore — say bilingualism would diminish Macedonia’s unified character.

Macedonian lawmakers approved the bill this month during a vote the main opposition party boycotted.

President Gjorge Ivanov vetoed it last week, describing the legislation as unnecessary and unconstitutional.