Kosovo’s Acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti has praised the resistance of artists and citizens defending the National Theatre for more than two years, and has indirectly condemned its demolition by the Albanian government.
In a Facebook post, Kurti pointed at “temporary interests associated with the benefits of the few“ as the real reason for the government demolition of the theatre.
For the last three years, the Albanian government of Edi Rama has been trying to demolish the theatre and award the land to one of his favorite private companies to build six high-rise residential towers and a new theatre, according to the Prime Minister’s choice of design. The chosen new theatre designed is authored by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. No competition took place.
The Socialist majority even passed a “special law” in parliament to award the land to the private company, thus discarding all responsibility from the executive. The law was vetoed by the President for being unconstitutional. After a second successful vote in parliament, the President took the law to the Constitutional Court where it’s still awaiting a ruling.
Following pressure by the European Commission, Europa Nostra and other international actors, the government cancelled the plan to directly award the land to a private company and instead transferred its ownership to the Municipality of Tirana. The municipal council secretly voted on the demolition of the building, and the municipality and government demolished on Sunday morning at 4.30.
The Municipality of Tirana says it will build the new theatre designed by Ingels with public money.
Following is Acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s full message originally posted in Albanian:
“We must be the defenders of every corner of our culture. A part of it was stolen from us by the Serbian occupier – 1,200 cultural artifacts of Kosovo. Another part was oppressed and suppressed by dictatorships and ideologies, it was attacked by the academies of our neighbors, it was sold and ruined by the ignorance of officials or institutional corruption.
The archive of a people, its memory, must be kept intact by regimes. Culture is created during the histories of regimes, but at its core is the creativity and adherence of a people.
When a cultural monument collapses, it is not as a result of a partial judgment that derives from one’s particular taste, but [it is a result of] the temporary interests associated with the benefits of the few.
I greet and support all the artists and citizens of Tirana who have defended the National Theater for so long. When losses occur, the event, as well as the loss itself is marked in history by resistance. In resistance we learn, and since we do not forget those lessons, those who benefit today lose tomorrow, while those who lose gain.”