Prime Minister Edi Rama reiterated that the government will demolish the National Theater building, and that a private company will build high-rise buildings on the public land next to it.
In a press conference today, Rama defended the project and the Special Law prescribing the demolition of the existing theater building. He claimed that granting public land to a private company in exchange for a new theater building was the only way possible.
The prime minister said it was a “fortunate coincidence” that a private company was interested to develop its private property close to the existing theater, and that the Municipality of Tirana happened to own public land next to it.
“It’s a fortunate coincidence that there is land over there, owned by the Municipality of Tirana, which has been a trash ground for 30 years, and can now become a tradable asset to buy a theater, without spending a single cent from the budget.”
Fusha shpk, the company expected to win the tender, owns 289 square meters close to the theater building. The potentially anti-constitutional Special Law tailored for Fusha shpk by the ruling Socialist Party awards the company 8,465 square meters of public land. According to the project, the company will build six towers and the new National Theater building.
President Meta has appealed the Special Law to the currently dysfunctional Constitutional Court.
Answering a journalist’s question, today Rama said he could not wait until the Constitutional Court is rendered functional as he feared an earthquake could raze the theater building in the meantime.
The prime minister refused to give a date for the building demolition. He also avoided the question why police surrounded the National Theater and blocked the entrance, cut the power and water supply, when tens of protesters occupied the building on July 24. He said he could not understand why they had occupied the theater and how they could claim to protect it from demolition.
“There is a will expressed in the law. You like it or not, the law is there to be implemented, not to be discussed,” Rama added.
He further stated that apart from the National Theater, his government has planned to have private companies build several other institutions, including the National Library, Puppet Theater, Fier Hospital and a new university campus.
“We have no money to build the theater or the library. How do you think we will build the university campus? We will invite foreign investors. We will tell them ‘We want this and we will pay you in time’. In the end, these works will be at people’s disposal.”