Macedonian Government spokesman Muhamed Hoxha told reporters that the law on the use of the Albanian language will certainly mean hiring additional public sector employees to translate and communicate with citizens in Albanian, beyond the constitutional framework which provides that minority languages are in use only in municipalities where that ethnic group amounts to at least 20 percent of the population. According to Hoxha, who himself is Albanian and began the press conference in Albanian, the law will apply even in the many municipalities where there are no Albanians.

The law will apply to all. In this case, it applies to all institutions. Those institutions which don’t use the language in accordance with the law, which is now in effect, will face fines, Hoxha said.

His colleague, the ethnic Macedonian spokesman Mile Bosnjakovski, denied this claim without responding directly to Hoxha, but to the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, which objects to both the unconstitutional way in which the law was adopted, without President Ivanov’s signature, and its content and high price tag of providing translation services where they are not realistically needed.

The law on the use of languages will not lead to additional public sector employment in municipalities in which the citizens from non-majority communities are under 20 percent. The Macedonian language and its Cyrillic alphabet remains the only official language on the entire territory of the Republic of Macedonia and in international relations. The law advances the rights of non-majority communities and does not provide for new employment, said Bosnjakovski.

This is completely in contradiction with the claims made by DUI party leader Ali Ahmeti a year ago, when the law was being introduced.

Are there any Albanians in Strumica? No. But some might be passing through. And if he is passing through and has some problems at the border or in the city, interpreters will be brought and the law will allow him to use his language in case he has some problems with the police or the prosecutors. If he is in Delcevo and causes some problem he will be able to use his language, said Ahmeti.

VMRO-DPMNE announced it will challenge the law in front of the Constitutional Court. According to the opposition party, the law will only create more division along ethnic lines in Macedonia, impose a heavy cost on the country and also discriminates against smaller ethnic communities.