Today the Parliamentary Committee on Productive Activity, Commerce, and Environment refused the President’s degree on the National Theater law. The refusal was approved with only the votes of the socialist majority. This move opens the way to the demolition of the National Theater and the building of skyscrapers around it, after the law is expected to be voted in Parliament today.
The approval of the law in Parliament requires 71 votes which the socialist majority already has.
The law expected to be approved today was twice returned to Parliament by President Meta. According to President’s Office the law violates the Constitution, European conventions, principles of the Stabilization and Association Agreement on competition, and the principle of the division and balance of powers.
For months in a row the law has been opposed by artists and citizens organized under the Alliance for the Protection of the Theater, who have presented their concerns to the European institutions as well.
The European Commission had asked the Rama government for clarifications regarding reasons for passing of a special law dictating the demolition of the National Theater building and granting public property to the private company Fusha shpk for the purpose of building several skyscrapers.
Via a letter, the Commission had presented the government with 15 questions, one of which asked whether the special Fusha shpk law was consistent with Albania’s obligations per the Stabilization and Association Agreement, which makes up the regulatory framework between the EU and our country.
A history of the National Theater Law
On July 5, the special law on the National Theater was passed by a simple Socialist majority in parliament. The law would transfer ownership of the public National Theater land to the private company Fusha shpk, for the construction of a new Theater building as well as 6 skyscrapers around it.
On July 27, President Ilir Meta refused to sign the law and sent it back to Parliament.
In his July 27th decree, the President listed nine violations, the main ones being the violation of Constitution, European conventions, principles of the Stabilization and Association Agreement on competition, and principle of the division and balance of powers.
The law was returned for discussion to the parliamentary committee, where in an unprecedented and illegal move the socialist majority approved the presidential decree. This practically meant accepting President’s remarks, particularly the unconstitutionality remark, and abolishing the law. However, at the same time the socialist majority made amendments to the law, within minutes, without debating it or adhering to the normal parliamentary procedures.
On September 20, the socialist majority in Parliament approved the ‘amended’ law again.
On October 11, President Meta refused for a second time to decree the special law on the National Theater. The President didn’t approve the changes made to the law, clarifying that the socialist majority had fixed none of violations of the Constitution and democratic principles raised by the President in his first refusal to decree the law in July.
Out of nine violations that President Meta pointed out in the first Theater law, the Socialist majority only attempted to address one, concerning the preferential and unfair treatment of a private subject. Nonetheless, even in the new law, this issue had not been resolved.