Census in Albania and the provocation to the Greek minority

In one of its most recent meetings the Ministers’ Cabinet of Albania determined in full detail the forthcoming census of population that is going to start in Spring 2011 along with the elections for regional self-administration.

The new census’ duration will be of six months and about 700 people will be employed for it. Their remuneration will come up to 90 million Lek (approximately € 750.000) while the whole process’ full cost will amount to

 € 15 million. Only five million euros will be paid by the Albanian state whereas the remaining amount by various organizations including UHFRA (€ 1 million) as well as UHDP and the Sweden’s Statistics Agency (€ 1 million).

The census will be conducted door to door during which each citizen will fill out their own questionnaire.

The new census on population and homes should clarify the precise number of citizens, families and homes so that a realistic figure of the country in demographic, economic and social terms would be provided.


National and religious origin

Last but no least, questions regarding national origin and religious beliefs will be included in the questionnaire in which -unlike in the original one- the answers would be optional. More specifically, in the ninth question the citizen is asked in which national group he belongs to. In case he would not wish to respond he has the option not to declare his national origin by ticking off into the corresponding checker. The same applies also on religion. At the beginning there is a question whether the citizen is a believer of any faith or an atheist. Thus in the former case he could optionally tick it off and move to the next checker defining the religious faith he is a believer of.

Those who constantly stand critically at the census, coming from the Albanian nationalistic circles, underline that even such questions are risky. ”By the Constitution, the State is tolerant and it should not interfere with religious affairs and thereupon to compel citizens to a declaration of faith” says Pellumb Xhufi while Sabri Godo, another extreme nationalist, points that “all those receiving a pension from Greece have already changed their last names while Greece is going to take advantage of the “increased” figures in order to tout that in Albania there is a minority larger than what is admitted so far.”

We estimate that a very large percentage will not respond to the question on religious beliefs while a significant percentage would not respond to the question on national origin warranting a convenient definition of its outcome.


Organizational structure

Main coordinating body will be the Census Central Committee. The Ministers’ Cabinet by the Census Central Committee’s proposal is going to approve the single Census committees for each of 12 regions of the country. Those committees will recruit the staff in charge of the census, they will train them and also will take all possible steps for a timely and valid closure of registering.


The provocation

The countdown for the census has begun and the political representatives –with the exception of a sweeping position by Dules in the Albanian Parliament few weeks ago- are still remaining passive while a questioning on whether they would “win” or “lose” out of such a census is in the air. There has not been any public position on the original as much as in the most-likely- to- be- final amended questionnaire  Not even at least a comment on whether we like the questionnaire at issue or not

To our opinion the questionnaire is not bad however there are some important issues pertaining to the process and we strongly believe that there should be put pressure towards the end of:

1)      Participation of our people within the committees

2)      Possibility for anyone to have the rest of their family’s members registered

3)      Participation of foreign observers in all levels, mainly in the area where the minority lives, so that the credibility of registering will be safeguarded.


(translated by SFEVA)

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