The Alliance for the Protection of the National Theater released a critical statement directed at the EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca’s implied support of the governments plans for the historic building.
The theater is set to be demolished and the public land that it sits on will be sold to a private company- a highly controversial and illegal proposa that has resulted in 18 months of protests from actors, academics, and members of civil society.
The Alliance considers Ambassador Soreca’s statement “unwarranted, unnecessary and harmful,” adding that it attempts to “provide legitimacy to a sham tender, with a predetermined winner, for a private development that would be financed with money of dubious origin.”
It further argues that the ambassador has reached beyond his competence and diplomatic status, while also pointing at several legal and constitutional violations disregarded by Soreca.
The Alliance also states that in view of the institutional vacuum created by the implementation of the justice reform, it would have been sensible for Ambassador Soreca to call for a halting of the government project until the law is reviewed by the Constitutional Court.
Finally, expressing their doubts that the Ambassador’s assertion might have been intentionally biased, The Alliance called on him to rethink his stance “based on facts, and the democratic values he is supposed to represent.”
Following is the full text of the statement:
The Alliance for the Protection of the Theater considers todays’ statement by EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca as unwarranted, unnecessary and harmful. The statement has rendered support to an illegal and corrupt plan to grab public land, situated in the country’s most valuable real estate, and hand it to private developers.
It is unfortunate that Ambassador Soreca has attempted to provide legitimacy to a sham tender, with a predetermined winner, for a private development that would be financed with money of dubious origin. The ambassador’s assertions are far beyond his competence and his diplomatic status. More importantly, they run counter to the public interest and undermine Albania’s rule of law and democratic governance, which European taxpayers have invested hundreds of millions of euros (and counting) in establishing and improving.
The “special law” for the national theater violates the Aarhus Convention on information and public participation in decision making; the Albanian Constitution, which guarantees the independence of the local government and equality before the law; as well as, the laws on competition and public procurement. The Albanian President has already appealed the law to the Constitutional Court, but its absence has given the Prime Minister absolute power to pass and implement any law, without any institutional limits or control.
Since the European Commission and the EU Delegation in Tirana have played a major role in the drafting and implementation of the Justice Reform, it would have been sensible for the Ambassador to call for a halting of the project until the law is reviewed by the Constitutional Court. It would have also been a show of humility and responsibility towards the Albanian people for the Ambassador to try and limit the unchecked power the Prime Minister has seized due to the total paralysis of the judicial system.
The Justice Reform was necessary and well-intended, but due to poor planning and bad implementation we are facing an almost total collapse of the judicial system, which has led to situations like the one involving the National Theater Building.
Unfortunately, the EU Ambassador has chosen today to stand by the side of Edi Rama and Shkelqim Fusha, while opposing the artists, academics, citizens, and the honest people of Tirana and Albania. We hope that such alignment is nothing more than poor judgment and bad taste by the Ambassador, and we call on him to rethink his stance based on the facts, and the democratic values he is supposed to represent.