Have you seen Artan Lame? It has been some time now that he hasn’t appeared on TV. I am not referring to his appearance when he distributes legalization certificates to those who are best at appropriating lands or best able to violate the laws. These days they are famously distributed live on air. Flashy shows like this aren’t lacking, even as I notice that he doesn’t quite feel like himself.
When I ask whether you have seen or heard about Artan Lame, I refer to Lame’s many speeches on cultural heritage problems, which he has never avoided. He has expressed his thoughts and has never been afraid to defend them. I have known him since the end of the eighties and I reckon he would not change his character. If communism was still alive today, he would be in some jail, because he held fascist architecture and the uniforms of the Kingdom in high regard. He even spoke out about the stadium but this time he has kept his silence. He has not declared his stance; he has neither defended nor condemned a project that is affecting everyone: the Veliera project in Durrës. This project has opened up debates on archeological discoveries in a city that is important to Albania and the whole Mediterranean region.
Have you seen Artan Shkreli? It has been some time now since he last appeared on TV. Not even in this moment when the debate is alive and defenders of the heritage are shouting and knocking on every door that could lend them an ear. In the past, Shkreli has spoken a lot, too. For many years he was the first one to go on protests and live debates for things of lesser value than this one. Shkreli has always talked and expressed his thoughts. He has defended them with full force, but this time around he has remained silent.
What is happening in Durrës and who is right in this debate that looks more like a deaf than a real one? Some pretend that that Veliera project is being constructed over some of the most important archeological findings in the country, on top of the medieval ancient walls and cannons that the Venetians used to protect the city in the 1400 from the Turks. The municipality pretends that the foundations found are from an Ottoman building that dates in the 19th century. It is hard to make any conclusions regarding this area, where history, events, and traces of other eras are layered on top of each other.
How come there is not a real confrontation so that we can actually understand what is going on there? This is not a joke. We are dealing with the most important archeological city in the country and one of the most important in the Mediterranean region. This is a city with a 2500-year-long history, where the protagonists and events intertwine with each other in a very unique and special way. We are dealing with a city that has a historical value comparable to Rome and Athens. Antiquity and the middle Ages are its most significant attractions. In cities similar to Durrës, defending archeological values is sanctioned by legislation and is considered a social duty. I remember some years ago, a city situated on a Greek island was seeking to purchase a cannon ball on the international market, similar to the one found under the mud in Durrës. My journalist friends described this as one of the most important events taking place during that year in their ancient city.
And I did not want to add that archeology is the main attraction for tourists in the Mediterranean countries and the biggest pride of these places.
Personally I am not against Veliera Project. Our cities desperately need new modern structures and monuments on their squares. This project can be applied some meters away and without touching the archeological remains. It is a fact that during the 1990s and 2000s we acted like cannibals on archeology, but this doesn’t give us any the right to destroy it today. That is why I was really curious to hear Artan Lame and Artan Shkreli. Ardian Klosi and Andrea Stefani are no longer alive. Some others that constantly protested with them, are certainly working somewhere for the government. I placed little hope on them, but regarding these two I hope they find the courage to speak. Their words have value, whatever they are. They weren’t afraid at other times, it is really surprising they are scared or dreading something today…