Tirana mayor Erion Veliaj alleges Albanian President Ilir Meta took the government to the Constitutional Court over the National Theatre’s ownership transfer in an attempt to delay Tirana’s development.
On May 8, the Albanian government transferred ownership of the land the National Theatre sat on, to the Tirana municipality. This transfer proved to be the first step towards demolishing the Theatre building on May 17.
It is likely the transfer of ownership also helped Prime Minister Edi Rama avoid possible political and international complications following pressure from the EU.
Whereas the new Theatre building will be built with public funds, the Municipality will most probably award the adjacent public land to private companies to develop for commercial projects, according to Rama’s previous plan and Veliaj’s previous experience.
On May 14, President Meta filed a suit at the Constitutional Court against the government, demanding the repeal of the decision to transfer National Theatre land ownership to the Tirana municipality.
Earlier, on July 25, 2019, President Ilir Meta had filed a suit with the Constitutional Court, asking for the National Theatre Special Law to be declared unconstitutional. Due to the Court being defunct at the time, this suit was only taken under review in late 2019.
In an interview last night, Veliaj claimed that the government’s decision to transfer ownership of the National Theatre’s land is a matter for the Administrative Court, not the Constitutional.
The implication here is that, had the case gone to Administrative Court, the government would have won quickly. The Constitutional Court, on the other hand, remains currently incomplete, which means any verdict from it would likely be delayed.
Veliaj, thus, claims that the President taking the case to the Constitutional Court was a “trick” meant to delay the municipality’s demolition of the National Theatre.
However, Meta went to the Constitutional Court on the grounds that the transfer allegedly violates the Constitution, constitutional principles and international conventions ratified by Albania.
The Albanian Constitution stipulates that the Constitutional Court “decides on […] the compatibility of normative acts of the central and local organs with the Constitution and international agreements.”
Similarly, the Albanian Law on the Organisation and Functioning of Administrative Courts stipulates that “an administrative court does not examine disputes that are related to normative subordinate legal acts that, according to the Constitution, are in the competence of the Constitutional Court.”