From: Exit News
EU Commissioner for Culture Urges Government to Engage in Dialogue on National Theatre

Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, has once again spoken in defense of the Albanian National Theatre.

Gabriel tweeted today in support of dialogue between the government, civil society and cultural heritage experts before “an irreversible decision” like threatened demolition of the National Theatre is made.

The Commissioner has endorsed the preservation of the National Theatre, part of Europa Nostra’s 7 Most Endangered cultural sites in 2020,  before. Tirana mayor Erion Veliaj, however, has dismissed international support for the preservation of the National Theatre, insisting that the decision to demolish the building was a “fundamentally local” one. He also ruled out a popular referendum on the issue.

Europa Nostra, too, has opposed the demolition of the National Theatre.

On May 8, the government transferred ownership of the National Theatre’s land to the Tirana municipality, a decision contested by President Ilir Meta, who has asked the Constitutional Court to repeal it, as well as by the Albanian Ombudsman, who has started an administrative investigation into the transfer. 

Yesterday, the Tirana municipal 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.