Europa Nostra which previously recognised the National Theatre as one of the 7 Most Endangered Cultural Sites in Europe, has spoken out about the secret decision of the Municipal Council of Tirana to demolish it.
We stand for Europe’s #culturalheritage. This is why we oppose the proposed illegal demolition of #NationalTheater in #Tirana, one of Europe’s #7MostEndangered sites.
The Theater is protected by national law & is strongly defended by civil society & experts
#EUValue #RuleofLaw pic.twitter.com/Tm7FW2ox19
— Europa Nostra (@europanostra) May 14, 2020
The organisation took to Twitter to condemn the news:
“We are for the cultural heritage of Europe. Therefore, we oppose the proposal for the illegal demolition of the National Theatre in Tirana, one of the 7 most endangered cultural sites in Europe. The theatre is protected by national law and is strongly defended by civil society and experts ” they wrote.
Europa Nostra has informed several European institutions and personalities about the news. They include President of European Parliament David Sassoli, European Commissioner for Culture Mariya Gabriel, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borell, and EU ambassador to Albania Luigi Soreca.
Earlier in the year, Europa Nostra sent a letter to Prime Minister Edi Rama and Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj to ask them not to demolish the theatre. In the letter, they said they were “sincerely concerned about the alarming plans to demolish the National Theatre of Albania, a heritage site of great cultural and architectural importance”.
Yesterday, the City Council secretly approved the demolition of the theatre. Decision number 50, dated 14 May 2020 states that the building will be demolished based on the expertise of the Institute of Construction. It also states that the Institute of Territorial Defense has the right to surround, enter and then demolish the building. The decision gives no date for demolition but says it will notify the Municipality 24 hours before it enters the building.
The expertise document drafted by the Institute of Construction was drafted only one day before, on May 13, and states the building is not suitable for carrying out activities and that regardless of any renovations, it cannot be made safe.
The subsequent vote on its contents by the Municipal Council is not founded in law. Firstly the Municipal Council can only take a decision based on something that belongs to the Municipality. In this case, while the land the theatre sits on does indeed belong to them, the building itself does not.
Secondly, the expertise document is an administrative-legal act that can only be subjected to judicial review. A political institution such as the Municipal Council of Tirana does not have any jurisdiction over a legal act put forward by a central government institution.
Thirdly, it’s unclear how the vote took place. No public announcement for the Municipality Council meeting was made public, as required by the law.