From far up north to the deep south, Albania possesses a variety of archeological findings that create a chronological mosaic of the civilizations established during many centuries in our land.
In Fier, since 2005, the antique city of Apollonia functions as a National Archeological Park. Apollonia was established as a city at the start of the seventh century B.C. by Corinthian Greek colonizers.
This interesting fact was used this year during a pre-electoral campaign event by LSI leader Ilir Meta, when he chose this park to discuss his party platform on tourism development.
“I consider tourism as one of the most important pillars, still in its initial stages of exploitation… but which has been utilized in the wrong way for the most part,” Ilir Meta spoke freely about the ministry which is directed by the Socialist Party. But the slogan “A chance through tourism” seems rather ironic for this sector. This party could have given a chance to tourism long time ago, during the last eight years in which it was part of a coalition with both major parties.
This party could have, for example, opposed the destruction of the “Albanian Pompeii” by the construction of a building complex in Durrës. For the sake of tourism, the Ministry of the Environment could have blocked the flow of sewage water into the sea, which was reported last August by website Ishull.
While LSI was careful not to digress from tourism and archeology, the top socialist, Edi Rama used the Apollonia Park as an arena of communication with the loyal young supporters of this political force. The dominating themes were “trusted government” and “caretaker government” while the protection of archeology, the development of tourism, or other government investments were not spoken of.
The director of the Department of Arts and Culture, Arben Skënderi, reacted to this event, while he expressed that it was a violation of law, because organizing any kind of activity that doesn’t have cultural values as its focus, connected directly or indirectly with the promotion of cultural heritage or the site where the activity is happening, is prohibited. It seems that even LSI’s event, for displaying the program of tourism, was apparently violating the same law.
Meta and Rama could escape the crime scene that is surrounded by tape by the office of prosecutor in Durrës at Veliera Square, but couldn’t escape from the rich land of Apollonia. At the beginning of February, two brothers, living in Radostimë village in Fier, located at the foot of Apollonia hills, were arrested by the police, after 264 artifacts were found in their possession.
The Necropolis of Apollonia was transformed into “a Park of Theft” and although guards are responsible for park supervision, treasure hunting was carried as if they were putting holes through Veliera blinds at the midst of day.
But, while politics was detached from Apollonia, an important event for the park, the rehabilitation of the monastery of St. Mary and the landscape in the Archeological Park in Apollonia, an investment of the European Union, was turned into a political brawl.
The Prime Minister was acting differently from last month, when he was attacking his ally on the continuation of the coalition, while yesterday he was handling the protest of the opposition, an event that didn’t seem to belong to politics.
The Park of Apollonia is a temple of culture and any attempt made to occupy it shows the impoverishment in archeological investments in the country. The Archeological Park of Bylis could have been chosen, where Illyrians left their mark, but the roads leading to it aren’t paved. The castle of Grazhdan, Dibër, considered the biggest in the Balkans, could have been chosen, but it has been forgotten.
The hills of Spitall, Durrës, could have been chosen, but there archeological excavations have been missing for decades, prehistoric and ancient periods are sleeping peacefully, underneath the luxurious villas in Kallm with the hope that they will spread on the hills.
The Prime Minister serves also as the head of the National Council of Territory and when he signs for the continuation of the “Urban Renaissance,” he should identify the archeological zoning of Durrës, because the Romans, Ottomans, and others do not need his concrete backstabbing in a time of peace. In the last few months, a number of public and private projects have been signed, in areas where scientific evidence show that there are ancient objects, mosaics, and Roman luxury constructions.
While cultural heritage is becoming an campaign issue, the time after election will decide upon the destiny of Durrës and the Albanian underground. Today is the silence before the storm.