In 2000, Edi Rama, then Albanian Minister of Culture, was adamant that Tirana’s historical center was part of our national identity. At that time, when Rama was finally launching his political career, something he was attempting to do since 1990, he wanted to appear as a man of culture who was dedicated to the interests of the public.
Twenty years later, Edi Rama the Prime Minister, sent excavators to demolish that national identity.
In a 2000 interview with journalist Blendi Fevziu, Rama postured:
“These are monuments and values that cannot be remade. We can make new ones, build skyscrapers, but these values that make up part of our national heritage cannot be replaced. It is our duty to preserve them as such.”
Rama the Minister claimed that merely talking patriotism and national identity was in vain if one “remained indifferent in the face of the daily destruction of the tangible evidence of our national identity” in Tirana’s historical center.
To Rama the Minister, this city center must be preserved and renovated. Any project to be developed within its bounds, Rama proposed, must receive the approval of the Institute of Cultural Monuments.
After a decade, in 2010, Rama protected the Tirana pyramid building, built to be Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha’s museum, by deeming attempts to bring it down to build a new parliament building as “talebanism.” He said this would be akin to what Hoxha’s regime did when it demolished churches and burned religious books and artworks.
Calling the pyramid building part of the country’s cultural and historical heritage, Rama claimed that no European country would raze such heritage to the ground. Germany, he said, did not bring the old Reichstag building down, but instead reconstructed it.
Albania’s National Theatre had no such luck. Today, Rama the Prime Minister, is asking citizens to remain indifferent “in the face of the daily destruction of the tangible evidence of our national identity,” which he now introduces as ‘progress’.