MEPs Question Theater Demolition Effect on Albania’s EU Accession Talks

Three Members of the European Parliament have condemned the demolition of Albania’s National Theater and police violence on protestors. They have also posed questions to the European Commission regarding effects of the demolition on the country’s EU accession talks.

MEPs Lidia Pereira, Maria da Graça Carvalho, Claudia Monteiro de Aguiar of the European People’s Party (EPP) have considered the Albanian government’s actions a “threat to democracy and the rule of law”.

In their statement, the MEPs noted the following: 

On 17 May, the Albanian authorities tore down the National Theatre in Tirana, considered by Europa Nostra as one of the seven most endangered monuments in Europe. 

The building’s demolition was condemned by the President of Albania and by various national and European institutions. 

Albanian security forces arrested several protesters during the demolition, including political activists, artists and journalists. Freedom of expression and of opinion is a pillar of democracy and rule of law. These freedoms have been violated.

Reminding the Commission of the EU financial assistance to Albania to support economic and social development and protection of the values that define the European Union, the MEPs asked the following questions:

1. Is the Commission aware of how the demonstrators came to be arrested?

2. What impact does the Commission expect this to have on Albania’s neighbourhood policy and accession negotiations?

The Albanian government illegally demolished the National Theater despite national and international calls against such a move. The land is expected to be awarded to private companies to build residential towers.

The demolition was widely condemned.