From: Exit News
German Politician Accuses Tirana Mayor of Flouting European Values in Insisting National Theater Be Demolished

German politician Dors Pack called out Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj for disregarding European values in continuing to advocate for the demolition of Tirana’s National Theater.

On April 27, Pack accused Veliaj of having no respect for Europa Nostra’s inclusion of the National Theater in their list of 7 Most Endangered cultural sites in 2020, and questioned the credibility of both him and Prime Minister Edi Rama. 

Pack is the President of the EPP Women (European People’s Party), and has been the Chair of the EU Committee on Culture and Education since 2009.

Her remarks come as a result of Veliaj dismissal of the European Commission’s support for Tirana’s National Theater building. On April 25, Veliaj insisted that the demolition of the National Theater is a “local decision” to be taken by “those who live in Albania.”

In response to this statement, Pack pointed out that Albania intends, nonetheless, to enter the EU. By seeking the demolition of the National Theater, Rama and Veliaj flout European values that form the entire basis of the Union Albania is trying to join.

The public land that the theater sits on has been earmarked for a large development that would see it being totally demolished and large tower blocks and a small theater erected in its place. Civil society has been protesting the proposals for over two years due to claims it is unconstitutional, illegal, corrupt, and that the public land would be sold to a private company and developed by a government favorite, Fusha Shpk.

In February, the government announced that the site would be developed with public funds and not by a private company. A statement released by the Municipality of Tirana said that they will “ask the government to provide financial support for the realization of the National Theater.”