From: Alice Taylor
Gjirokaster Bypass Works Infringe on Category 1 Monument, Amid UNESCO Call for Suspension

The construction of the bypass in Gjirokaster is impacting a Category 1 Monument, despite a unanimous call from UNESCO to suspend the works.

The work is taking place in a protected area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After civil society and Exit sounded the alarm over the project in early 2021, the World Heritage Committee took a unanimous decision to ask Albania to halt the work pending checks and assessments. Culture minister Elva Margiriti denied that UNESCO had made such a call, and accused the media of spreading fake news, despite the resolution being published on UNESCO’s official site.

Work on Bypass in Albanian UNESCO World Heritage Site Continues Despite Request for Suspension

Photos clearly show the continuation of the work, despite the request to stop. One image shows construction work taking place on the site of an Ottoman bridge that is listed as a Category 1 monument, the highest level of protection that can be afforded. Such work is illegal to carry out on a protected monument.

There were reports that UNESCO had visited Albania in December to assess the work, but Exit has been unable to confirm this. If they did visit, no report has been issued and therefore the resolution remains in place.

Exit previously asked for copies of the plans and the impact assessment reports but was refused by the Municipality of Gjirokaster.