SKOPJE, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) -- With 66 votes in favor and 41 against, the Parliament of Macedonia approved Wednesday a draft law which extends the official use of Albanian to the entire country.
Despite the strong debates between the majority and opposition lawmakers, Albanian is now Macedonia's second official language.
According to the majority here, the draft law aims at easing the communication of Macedonia's ethnic Albanian minority with institutions, hospitals and courts.
Official statistics show that ethnic Albanians make up a quarter of Macedonia's population.
The law of 2001 allowed the official use of the Albanian language only in communities where ethnic Albanians were more than 20 percent of the population.
But over the years, the Albanian community here claimed more rights and demanded the extension of Albanian as Macedonia's second official language.
The use of Albanian language was also the main condition set by the ethnic Albanian parties here before joining the coalition with the ruling SDSM party of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.
But, for the Macedonian opposition, led by VMRO-DPMNE, the law falls against Macedonian Constitution.
Before the voting process, VMRO-DPMNE lawmakers expressed their vote against, saying that the law put Macedonian language in a discriminatory position. They also said that the law didn't improve inter-ethnic relations as the majority claims.
Zaev stated after the adoption of bill that the new government was sincerely and strongly committed to fostering and improving the Macedonian language.