Gazeta Shqiptare and media outlet Balkanweb have pulled an article published on their websites yesterday, which revealed that the Municipality of Tirana was “not informed” about the current status of the controversial tender procedure for the National Theater.
According to the Alliance for the Protection of the Theater, the article was removed after pressure from the Municipality of Tirana. The Municipality and Mayor Erion Veliaj have a history of harassing and censoring journalists.
The article, written by journalist Fatmira Nikolli, related four questions about the National Theater project, asking how many companies had applied, and which of those had previous relations with the Tirana Municipality. Nikolli also inquired about the officials involved in the tender committee, and asked when the winner will be announced. The application period for the tender was until September 19.
According to Decision of the Council of Ministers (VKM) no. 352 of April 4, 2019, chap. II art. 8:
Every documentation of the commission is signed by the chairman and sealed with the seal of the Municipality of Tirana and is protocollized at the protocol of the Municipality of Tirana. The documentation is archived and stored in the archive of the Municipality of Tirana.
However, in his answer General Director Alban Dokushi stated:
We clarify to you that the Municipality of Tirana is not informed about the entire procedure that is held by this commission, because according to the definitions [in the VKM], the Municipality of Tirana will only the full documentation only at the end of this process.
There is no mention anywhere in the VKM that the documentation of the tender procedure is only archived once the entire process has been finished. This is not very credible, as protocol numbers are used to organize the internal process of the commission. Therefore, the Municipality of Tirana must have at least a list of documents processed by the protocol office available.
The Municipality also refused to reveal the names of the members of the commission.
The Municipality, moreover, refused to clarify when the winner of the tender procedure will be announced, instead referring again to VKM no. 352.
According to chap. VI art. 2 of that VKM, the commission should announce the winner of the tender following art. 7(6) of the Special Law on the National Theater. According to that law, the winner should have been announced 30 days after the closure of the application period, which was September 19.
In other words, the tender commission, headed by the Municipality of Tirana, is currently violating the legally imposed deadlines by failing to publish the ranked list of applicants.
The letter of Dokushi to Gazeta Shqiptare therefore points out, by referring to the VKM and Law, the complete illegality of the current tender procedure.
As we have reported extensively in Exit, the tender procedure for the National Theater was heavily rigged to favor major oligarchs related to the Rama government. Prime Minister Rama has several times confirmed that the new theater will be designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, who lists Fusha shpk as its client for the project.
Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj has publicly emphasized that the National Theater will be “demolished” “on a sunny day.”
Even though the current tender procedure fully circumvents the extant tender legislation and appears predetermined, the European Commission has come out in support of the Rama government.
Meanwhile, the opposition has asked the Prosecution Office to open an investigation into Danish architect Bjarke Ingels for collaboration in an illegal procedure.