From: Natan Haasnoot
Renovated Pazar i Ri Opened

Even though most urban regeneration projects initiated by the government end up in destruction, corruption, and maladministration, that doesn’t mean they need to be ugly!

Today, on the national holiday of Dita e Verës (Summer Day), Prime Minister Edi Rama and Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj opened the renovated Pazar i Ri (New Bazaar) in the heart of Tirana in the presence of Minister of Economic Affairs Milva Konomi and Minister of Urban Development Eglantina Gjermeni. And it must be said: they were only a few months late.

Even former Minister of Interior Affairs Saimir Tahiri made a prominent appearance by the side of his boss, supposedly in his role as PS coordinator for Tirana. Even though the official electoral campaign hasn’t started yet, ignoring the law has obviously become second nature to all involved.

For years the bazaar, which contained a covered market place from the Ottoman period, Italian villas, and communist housing blocks, had languished under the successive regimes of former Mayor Rama and former Mayor Lulzim Basha.

But the Pazar i Ri project shows what a well-funded, and properly monitored project can be. The Ottoman fish market has been restored, while a new fruits and vegetable market, made from steel and glass and designed by Rama’s favorite Atelier 4 has been wonderfully executed by construction firm Salillari. The glass roof gives an excellent view of the communist housing blocks surrounding the market, which have been painted in traditional Albanian weaving motifs. Part of the market has been reserved for traditional crafts, and will certainly become a fixed pit stop for tourists.

In his inauguration speech, Prime Minister Rama was also careful not to mention the funder of the project, the Albanian-American Development Foundation, making it seem as if the government paid for the sum of 211,188,585 lekë all by itself. He also took the time to express his “tiredness” of politics, and launched a few attacks on the opposition. In other words, a very successful campaign event!

The destroyed lapidar of Muhamet Gjollesha and Shyqyri Ishmi
The destroyed lapidar of Muhamet Gjollesha and Shyqyri Ishmi

The only minor note in this otherwise wonderfully executed ensemble, is the lapidar dedicated to Shyqyri Ishmi and Muhamet Gjollesha, whose wings were clipped and and columned shortened in the iconoclast tradition in which Rama’s government operates.

But hey, who cares about a communist monument, when real communist heroes can still be nominated minister!

Gëzuar Ditën e Verës!

The lapidar in better times.
The lapidar in better times.