Cultural heritage federation appeals to heads of state for National Theatre protection

Cultural heritage federation appeals to heads of state for National Theatre protection

TIRANA, Jan. 20 – The pan-European Federation for Cultural Heritage ‘Europa Nostra’ made another appeal for the protection of Albania’s National Theater on Monday, addressing in a letter the country’s President Ilir Meta, Prime Minister Edi Rama and Tirana Mayor

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German and French Embassies to hold ‘Grand Illusion’ movie screening on anniversary of cooperation treaty

German and French Embassies to hold ‘Grand Illusion’ movie screening on anniversary of cooperation treaty

On the occasion of the 57th anniversary of the Treaty on Franco-German Cooperation, the Treaty of Elysee, the German and French Embassies will launch a screening of the movie ‘The Grand Illusion’, one of the masterpieces of cinema, directed by

Read Full Article
Vjosa river documented through ‘Kucedra’ exhibition in Tirana

Vjosa river documented through ‘Kucedra’ exhibition in Tirana

TIRANA, Jan. 9 – EcoAlbania and the Institute of Anthropological and Spatial Studies ZRC SAZU, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, will host again the photo exhibition ‘Kuçedra – portraits of life on Europe’s last wild

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Nivica gains further international attention at American Institute of Archeology conference

Nivica gains further international attention at American Institute of Archeology conference

TIRANA, Jan. 7 – Last weekend the ‘Nivica’ project was presented at the annual conference of the American Institute of Archeology alongside a number of international project presentations at the Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel.  The project is a Czech-Albanian collaboration

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Young auditors: innovation ambassadors at ALSAI

Young auditors: innovation ambassadors at ALSAI

by Bujar Leskaj The Young ALSAI Scientific Conference has reached its second edition and aims to become a tradition for the institution, as well as a benchmark, forum and experience exchange platform, to encourage the generation of young auditors to

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Valbona, the river between tourism and hydropower plants

Valbona, the river between tourism and hydropower plants

By Blerina Hoxha   Adinah and Benyamin, an Israeli couple, chose to visit the Albanian alps against the advice of their friends. “Our friends asked if we were insane for choosing to visit Albania,” Adinah said, whom we met on

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Agro & Social Fund launches the BORROW WISELY! Campaign

Agro & Social Fund launches the BORROW WISELY! Campaign

On October 1st,  Agro & Social Fund announced the official launch of the BORROW WISELY! campaign – a one month educational campaign aimed mainly at current and potential clients.  The campaign is organised under the auspices of the Microfinance Centre,

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China celebrates 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China

China celebrates 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China

TIRANA, Sept. 24 – The Chinese Embassy to Tirana celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Tuesday evening at the premises of the National History Museum in Tirana with an official reception. The

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National Historic Museum hosts “The Belt and Road” Chinese traditional art exhibition

National Historic Museum hosts “The Belt and Road” Chinese traditional art exhibition

TIRANA, Sept. 23 – The National HIstoric Museum inaugurated on Monday, Sept. 23, the “Belt and Road” Chinese traditional art exhibition, brought for the public by the Chines Embassy to Tirana.  The exhibition, which stayed open for two days only,

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Spanish artist Luz Casal to give concert in Tirana

Spanish artist Luz Casal to give concert in Tirana

TIRANA, Sept. 11 – The Spanish Embassy in Albania shared on Tuesday the news of Luz Casal’s concert on Saturday, September 14, in Tirana’s amphitheatre by the artificial lake.  It’s Casal’s first time in Albania throughout her artistic career, a

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 20 - The pan-European Federation for Cultural Heritage 'Europa Nostra' made another appeal for the protection of Albania's National Theater on Monday, addressing in a letter the country’s President Ilir Meta, Prime Minister Edi Rama and Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj, in which it once again emphasized its position against the building’s demolition. 

According to 'Europe Nostra', the NT is a place of great cultural and architectural importance, not only in the Albanian capital, but also in Europe.

Further, it is recalled in the letter that the theater has been nominated by the Gjirokastra Foundation as part of a major civil society campaign to save the building for the program "7 Most Endangered Places by 2020.” 

In this context, ‘Europa Nostra’ writes that it would be a pity if the building is demolished.

 

Letters to heads of state 

 

Subjected ‘National Theater of Albania selected for the 7 most endangered locations,’ the letter addressed Meta by saying the federation is “deeply troubled by alarming plans” to demolish the building and calling for Meta to use his position and influence to protect it. 

“Based on the unanimous assessment, presented by the National Theater Advisory Panel of Albania, the National Theater will most likely be selected as one of the "7 most endangered venues". I would also like to add that Albanian sites have been selected twice in the past: Durres Amphitheater and Post-Byzantine Churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuq. In both cases, Europa Nostra found the cooperation with Albanian actors positive and effective, emphasizing the consideration and respect your country has for preserving cultural heritage,” the letter to Meta further stated. 

On a similar note, the letter addressed to Rama starts off by saying the PM “is probably aware” that Europa Nostra is deeply troubled by the government’s plans to demolish the building. 

“For this reason, we also sent you a letter on July 18, 2018, stressing the importance of the facility and urging you to use your honored position and positive influence to protect the precious National Theater of Albania,” the letter to Rama states. 

None of the 29 venues previously selected in the "7 Most Endangered Locations" program has been demolished and it would be a novelty if such a miserable fate had been reserved for the National Theater of Albania, with all the support shown nationally and on a European scale,” the letter also says.  

The letter to Veliaj was similar to the other two, with the federation reminding Veliaj that “the National Theater of Albania was nominated by the Gjirokastra Foundation, as part of a major civil society campaign to save the building, for the ‘7 Most Endangered Places for 2020’ program. It is a widespread civil society campaign across Europe that identifies endangered monuments and sites in Europe and engages public and private partners at local, national and European levels to ensure a vibrant and sustainable future for sites.”

 
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                    [post_content] => On the occasion of the 57th anniversary of the Treaty on Franco-German Cooperation, the Treaty of Elysee, the German and French Embassies will launch a screening of the movie ‘The Grand Illusion’, one of the masterpieces of cinema, directed by Jean Renoir. 

The screening will be held on Wednesday, January 22nd and the entry will be free of charge for the public audience.

Set in 1937, when the first signs of a new threat to world peace were evidenced, this film clearly stands out against nationalism, war and class and racial differences, making it a masterpiece in film history. The film's significant message that all races and classes can live together in peace, transforms it into a classic beyond its time. Due to Germany being painted in a good light, the film was heavily censored in France. On the other hand, in Germany, ‘The Grand Illusion’ was banned because of the pacifism displayed on it, and on October 1, 1940 the German military authorities banned its screening in France.

 

About the Director

 

Jean Renoir was a French Film director, producer and actor. He was one of the most famous filmmakers in France during the mid 1920s. He joined the army as a cavalryman but had to leave because of his illness before the beginning of the First World War. After the death of his father who left him with a large inheritance, he started his own film production company  make movies for his wife who was a model and an aspiring actress. During the Second World War, Renoir worked in the film unit of the French army and was fortunate to escape from the advancing German troops to Lisbon and then to America when France was occupied by Germany. His directing talent emanated from his uncompromising attitude towards commercial or public conventions and his ability to work in all genres without sacrificing his individuality.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 9 - EcoAlbania and the Institute of Anthropological and Spatial Studies ZRC SAZU, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, will host again the photo exhibition ‘Kuçedra - portraits of life on Europe's last wild river’ at Tulla Centre, Tirana on Friday, which will remain open to the public audience until January 12. The exhibition by American photographer Nick St.Oegger documents the Vjosa river, one of Europe’s last wild and free flowing rivers. Through photos of the landscapes and people of the Vjosa, the project will demonstrate a portrait of the unique environment, which is threatened by plans to build several large hydropower dams. The exhibition comes almost two years after St,Oegger’s self-published Kuçedra, a photo book dedicated to the Vjosa River. 

 

The Photographer 

 

Nick St.Oegger is a documentary photographer working throughout Europe. His interest in storytelling and the natural world was formed during childhood conversations and journeys with his mountaineer grandfather. 

His work explores the relationship between people and their surroundings, often focusing on forgotten communities threatened by modern developmental or environmental concerns. He has spent several years following the impact of a hydropower boom in the Western Balkans. Nick St.Oegger’s work has been exhibited internationally and is held in collections at the libraries of Oxford University, Cambridge University and Trinity College in Dublin. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 7 - Last weekend the ‘Nivica’ project was presented at the annual conference of the American Institute of Archeology alongside a number of international project presentations at the Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel. 

The project is a Czech-Albanian collaboration initiated two years ago to study the mountainous region of Kurvelesh, a southern Albanian province between Tepelena and the coastal area. 

This project, which is part of an ambitious plan to rebuild the region’s high tourism potential, has been able to attract the interest of scholars and archaeologists at the University of Bern and Karl University in the Czech Republic, who together with the municipality of Tepelena have established a long-term cooperation in the field of cultural heritage.

The Nivica project serves not only as a model for successful sustainable tourism development but also as an opportunity to link coastal and mountainous areas to create a unique form of tourism. The project also involves historical research and studies of the area, where an inventory of archaeological sites and cultural monuments has already been included in the GIS system as a basis to explore their historical significance further. 

Nivica is attracting more and more interest from both local and foreign visitors. In October 2018, a team of National Geographic selected the Nivica project as part of the television documentary series titled ‘Places that Inspire’. The team filmed footage of Kurvelesh Highlands to not only document the life and nature of the area, but also the efforts being made to create a tourism model based on the protection of natural and historical values.

 
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                    [post_content] => by Bujar Leskaj

The Young ALSAI Scientific Conference has reached its second edition and aims to become a tradition for the institution, as well as a benchmark, forum and experience exchange platform, to encourage the generation of young auditors to continue their professional careers at the SAI, deepening audit knowledge and enhancing cooperation with more experienced auditors and with their peers at partner SAIs in Europe and beyond.

The conference is the first activity of ALSAI’s Open Month for Citizens 2019, which has reached its third edition and has become a tradition of transparency and communication for the institution. Through the Open Month, we aim at a comprehensive and continuous communication with the citizens.

The theme of the Conference is to address key public audit issues in the context of changes towards Albania's European integration. The themes and sub-themes, as well as prepared and spontaneous presentations and discussions have outlined the key challenges of the Albanian supreme public audit today. The discussions are in line with the orientations and topics dwelt at the INTOSAI XXIII-rd Congress in September 2019 in Moscow. The two central themes of Congress were:

a- Information technology to develop public administration

b- The role of SAIs in achieving national priorities and goals.

Using information technology in public administration has evolved from digitalization to the current era of Big Data, which has led to the proliferation and variety of substantial data. Focusing on data as a tool to innovate and optimize the work of public administration has a positive impact on decision-making, increases coordination and enhances accuracy and transparency of public services. The information technology enriches the potential to perceive, predict and manage risk factors, accelerate economic development, improve methodologies and enhance the quality of public service. "The IT well-functioning systems can also improve the delivery of services and programs that are essential to the health, safety and well-being of citizens", emphasized in the Congress Mr. Gene Dodaro, United States Comptroller General.

In these years, we set up the Performance Audit Department in October 2012, four years later the Information Technology Audit Department and now we have made the decision and are setting up the Innovation and Systems Audit Department, in full reflection of INTOSAI XXIII-rd Congress orientations.

In addressing the second theme, Congress emphasized that as governments are being transformed and adapted to more effectively meet national and global goals, SAIs should be developed similarly, in line with the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, such as Goal 8 "Promoting sustainable and inclusive economic development and full and decent employment" and Goal 12 "Ensuring a sustainable pattern of consumption and production".

The XXIII-rd Congress directed SAIs to audit the fulfillment of Sustainable Development Goals according to national priorities and goals, shifting audit activities from "process responsibility" to "performance accountability" as a fundamental approach to improving accountability and efficiency in public governance.

The approach of Young ALSAI conferences is inspired by the experience of a small group of young auditors from different European countries attending the VII-th EUROSAI Congress in Krakow, Poland in 2008. Their work got crowned in 2013, with the organization of the first Young EUROSAI Conference (the YES Conference) on 21-22 November 2013 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Two more YES conferences followed in November 2015 in Tel Aviv, Israel and in September 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia.

Immediate and visible product is the network established in Europe among young auditors. Many YES participants are in constant touch with each other, both professionally and personally. The network that they have started building through meetings at YES conferences provides them with easier access to the audit experiences of their peers in other European SAI-s. It gives them the opportunity to compare their approaches in audit and ask questions, which enhances the quality of their daily work. It also assists them and subsequently their SAIs by identifying issues that arise both in the audit topics and in the processes of governing respective SAIs.

The Fourth Young EUROSAI Conference is being held at the same time (November 5-7) in London on "Relevance: Ensuring supreme audit institutions remain relevant in rapidly changing landscapes". This topic has many similarities to the topic selected by the Second Young ALSAI Conference.

The question arises: How do we integrate ourselves as SAIs, with the help and contribution of young auditors? As a member of INTOSAI and EUROSAI and a partner of EU-developed SAIs, the ALSAI considers audit capacity building as an ongoing, result-oriented and objective process. Since the beginning of my mandate as ALSAI Chairman, in the strategic platform presented before the Parliamentary Committee on Economy and Finance in December 2011, among the main objectives of the institution, I emphasized “the Development of SAI human resources at the level of INTOSAI standards and in line with country's integration requirements”.

During 2012–2019, we worked to enhance SAI auditors’ capacities, by creating a high professional profile of experienced auditors and young auditors, able to withhold knowledge, skills and integrity at the level of European developed SAIs’ auditors.

We have tried to recruit as many young auditors we could, convinced of the added value that they bring, thanks to their modern mindset and inclination versus innovative approaches to audit, or to their willingness to promote such approaches at the institution.

During 2012-2019, the ALSAI has increased and diversified the professional composition of staff and at the same time, has sensibly reduced staff average age from 50 zears old  in 2011 to 40.8 zears old at the end of 2018. In order to improve their audit performance, acquire new knowledge and techniques, some of the new employees have completed their second bachelor studies or possess professional certificates recognized nationally and internationally. 9 auditors, of whom seven are young auditors, have on-line training certificates developed by IDI, the INTOSAI Development Initiative. Other young auditors have participated in ECA’s international internship and in US GAO’s fellowship programs.

In ALSAI, the lifelong and ongoing training process has been operating effectively since 2012. It has been continuously improved and has become a consolidated system, reflecting the central message of the XXII-th INTOSAI Congress “To define professionalism as a an ongoing process by which auditors and their organizations provide SAIs with high levels of expertise, competence, ethical and quality behavior based on professional standards, the ISSAIs”.

In the professional development of the auditor, and in particular of the young auditor, we have taken advantage of the innovative approaches of more developed European SAI-s, in particular the European Court of Auditors (ECA). We have considered young auditors’ professional development as a function of complex training through the transformation of experiences from vision to reality, as well as assimilating new knowledge into flexible formats, according to staff positions, as auditors, assistants, experts, audit team leaders or senior management, in the form of alternative learning, or as a mixed approach to maximize results.

We have tried to promote alternative and integrated learning - as tools for the success of young auditors. The culture of lifelong learning and ongoing training has coincided with the SAI’s professional development policies, maximizing the need to create sustainable values ​​by applying a systematic professional and ethical learning process, an encouraging and flexible one, capable of dealing with complex situations of present challenges and risks. The SAI has developed innovative training formats for both junior and senior auditors, but especially focused on new recruits, which have led to acquisition of practical skills in auditing. This has been accomplished through leadership training, joint workshops and collaboration with academic staff, as well as overseas training with expert colleagues from European developed SAIs. Such approaches have been the driving and at the same time the inspiring force for managing institutional change in ALSAI, through increased contribution from young auditors.

As SAI, we have consolidated the reforms undertaken since 2012 in the management of human resources, focusing on the realization of three key objectives:
  1. Implementing the civil service legislative framework, the INTOSA International Standards on Auditing covering human resources management and the best practices and approaches identified by most developed SAIs such as the ECA, the US GAO, etc.
  2. Developing and installing ethical and integrity values ​​in every new SAI staff member, which is a prerequisite for institutional credibility and the foundation of citizens' trust in the SAI.
  3. Capacity building with a focus on enhancing professionalism and maximizing the productivity of young auditors and support staff.
This human resource management philosophy attempts to fulfill the priority objectives set out in the ISSAI 12 "Values ​​and Benefits of Supreme Audit Institutions - Making a Difference in Citizens' Life",by providing enhanced professional skills and knowledge of international standards in the field. During the period 2012-2019, ALSAI enabled the transformation from traditional human resource management to more proactive and innovative management, learning from SIGMA training experiences and from experts of advanced partner SAIs, such as the National Audit Office of Poland (NIK), the SAI of Croatia, the Austrian Court of Audit, the Czech SAI, etc., based on the INTOSAI motto “Experentia mutua Omnibus prodest”. The SAI's policy on audit capacity development, supported by its 2013–2017 Development Strategy, revised later and by its  2018-2022 Development Strategy, has aimed at recruiting and promoting capable and dedicated young auditors, hyghly motivated to contribute to individual development and to SAI development. I thank Mr. Joop Vrojlik, Former Senior Adviser to SIGMA, Mr. Robert Gielisse, former Senior Adviser to the European Commission's Directorate General for Budget (DG-Budget) and Mr. Raymond Hill, Team Leader and Senior Advisor to DG-Budget, for their permanent, significant and sometimes decisive contribution to ALSAI's institutional developments.In the context of meeting the objective of a modern human resources management, the ALSAI has taken concrete steps and a number of initiatives for the establishment of an effective human capital management infrastructure and system and the creation of a credible and professional institutional profile versus its main stakeholders – the auditees, the parliament, the media and the public. The effectiveness of HR policies in terms of enhancing professional capacity is evidenced by the indicator about 14 times higher of the average days of training per year per each auditor. So, from 2.1 average days of training in 2011 to an average of 25 days of training for the period 2012-2019, thus reaching the highest level throughout 94 years of existence of this institution. The average days per year for new auditors is 29 days. The ALSAI has orinted its auditors, especially the young ones to the use of digital audit process management information and support system, called RevZone, as an absolute novelty for the institution. RevZone facilitates and completes with the required information the digital guidance in audit. The institution has created a database of IT audit entities (ICTS Database) and developed the Active Information Technology Audit Manual. This electronic manual, with unquestionable value in risk analysis, audit planning and the use of previous audit experience, is a novelty not only for ALSAI but also for the global audit community as a product that was born, tested in a pilot audit and improved with the modest contribution of the ALSAI Information Technology auditors (largely composed of young auditors). It has been presented at several INTOSAI and EUROSAI IT working groups’ events, has been accepted and is being implemented as an innovation in the field of public supreme audit.   The ALSAI has translated INTOSAI's agenda for professionalism, presented at the INCOSAI XXII-nd Congress in December 2016 in Abu d'Habi and reconfirmed and consolidated at the INCOSAI XXIII-rd Congress in September 2019 in Moscow into assignments requiring more engagement from public auditors, especiallz from the young ones, to act as professionals, performing the audit work in the right quality and timely, as effectively and efficiently as possible.   The ALSAI, based on the enthusiasm and innovative strength of its young auditors, aspires to be fully capable to make a difference in the lives of Albanian citizens, as defined in the ISSAI 12. This is how our SAI has conceived growth and empowerment of institutional and organizational capacity, becoming the focus of the professional development for its young auditors and not only them, to enable them to deliver value and benefits to the citizen, in the uncompromising fight against corruption and in the work for real improvement of public governance, through auditing with efficiency, effectiveness and economz the use of Albanian taxpayer’s money.   [post_title] => Young auditors: innovation ambassadors at ALSAI [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => young-auditors-innovation-ambassadors-at-alsai [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-11-06 20:21:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-11-06 19:21:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143439 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 143417 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2019-11-01 13:16:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-11-01 12:16:12 [post_content] => By Blerina Hoxha   Adinah and Benyamin, an Israeli couple, chose to visit the Albanian alps against the advice of their friends. “Our friends asked if we were insane for choosing to visit Albania,” Adinah said, whom we met on the way to see the waterfall of Valbonë. “But we had read a lot about the country, so we decided to see it for ourselves,” she adds, convinced that they made the right choice, as the late autumn makes the Alps look even more fascinating than usual. To get to Valbonë, they rented a car following the long path from Shkodra, a choice they made themselves. “It was the most beautiful path I had ever seen and, believe me, I have seen the whole world,” Adinah says. What impressed her the most, however, was the clear color of the Valbonë river. “How is it possible that none of the tourism books on Albania have mentioned the clear color of the river?” she ass. “Your country is a tourist destination and you need to promote your natural resources as mu1ch as you can, especially the river and its color,” the Israeli couple recommends. When we tell this story to Katherine, the American who has now become one with the Albanian culture and is in love with Valbonë, she explains that the river is so unique and has such a clear color due to the high levels of calcium in its rocks underneath. Yet, the clearness has begun to falter. In the middle of the Valbonë river, a dam built near the windmills in Quku of Valbonë, cuts the river in half. On the side, there is now a puddle which has taken a rusty shade. Some of the river will become part of a canal, the construction of which has already finished, and will flow in the turbines of the hydropower plant built a little below the area. The canal made out of concrete, some meters high, extends just a few kilometres along the river course till it is adjoined with the dam of the second hydropower plant, which is located in the middle of a big construction site in the area. The current condition of the Valbonë river is reflective of the general ‘hydropower plant culture’ that has taken over Albania and the Western Balkans. The accurate number of concessionary contracts and hydropower plants is unclear; Government data reveals a number of contracts involving from 440 up to 540 hydropower plants, out of which, between 96- 176 are currently fully functional. The accurate number of hydropower plants in the river of Valbonë is also not fully disclosed. ‘TOKA’ company recently discovered existing contracts for 14 hydro plants in the Valley of Valbonë, eight of which are located in the protected areas. The International Union for Conservation of Nature classified the National Valley Park of Valbonë as a Level II protected area since 1996, in addition to being part of the Emerald Network according to the Berne Convention. Three companies were granted concessions to build the said 14 hydro plants in Valbonë. Official sources from Dragobia Energy Sh.p.k., now in full ownership of Gener 2, revealed that the project consists of four hydro power plants, but the company is working on only two of them. Tplani Sh.p.k. is responsible for the construction of the smallest hydro plant which began in 2013. The Valbona Project Company was given concessions for nine hydro power plants, three of which are located in the National Park area. Concessionary agreements which were signed with the Valbona Project company were criticized after it was revealed that they were signed at the end of Berisha’s administration, a time when the Democratic Party had just lost the nation election but the Socialist Party had not yet taken its oath. The Gener 2 company confirmed that the project will produce a capacity of 22MW and that investments  have reached an amount of 28 million euros. Over 22 thousand families will benefit directly from the production of electricity through the two operating hydro power plants. The Dragobi and Cerem hydropower plants will be functional only during periods  of rainfall and the rate of electricity production will depend on the seasonal water excesses.   Less tourists in Valbonë During the last few years, the number of tourists who visited the country increased rapidly.  The number of foreign tourists increased by 10 percent during the January-August period in 2019, compared to the previous year. However, the outcome was different for Valbonë. Despite being one of the top tourist attractions in Albania, along with Theth, unlike the past year, this time valleys were not filled with an abundance of tourist tents. As a regular visitor of Valbonë, this past decade I was taken aback by the unusual calmness along the alpine trails. However, the locals have a few explanations about it. Astrit, the manager of one of the main hostels in Valbonë says that, constructions in hydro power plants that extend through the whole valley, not only damaged the beautiful panorama, but also caused acoustic and visual pollution. These constructions caused some Czech and Polish travel agencies to stop bringing in tourists, in addition to a few German and Isralei tourists no longer visiting the area. Moreover, elections and the political crisis seem to have driven many tourists away from Valbonë as well. Local residents, despite advocating against the construction of the hydropower plants, have been under the pressure of interest groups.  Considering these imminent issues, earlier this year the American Advocate Society Center for the Human Rights investigated the reports that activists and community members, who rejected the spreading of hydro power plants in Valbonë, were facing continuous pressure by the state and the companies. Half of the interviewed citizens expressed that the number of hydro power plants and the construction process has had a negative impact on tourism, as the number of visitors has been in constant decline. Nearly 60 percent of them reported that the slow rate of tourism has directly impacted their family income as a result of lower business activity by restaurants and travel guides during the summers, decrease in demand for accommodation at the National Park as well as the demand for agricultural products such as milk, meat, fish and blueberries which are foraged and sold in restaurants. A common thought between the majority of the interviewed locals was that this general negative impact on tourism and the local economy will keep getting worse in the future if the planned hydropower plants will actually be built in the area. An independent environmental study which was signed by ten environmental experts, most of them biologists and natural sciences professor, discovered a myriad of harmful consequences that will fall upon the flora and fauna in the area due to the constructions. The study also found grave errors in the official environmental study of 2013 which made way for the construction of the hydro power plants. In their research study, independent experts claimed that “the official environmental impact assessment report does not consider the direct/indirect implications that these investments will have on the development of tourism in the area, considering that a major part part of the services are sustained by ecotourism. The report simultaneously vaguely mentions the actual benefits that this investment will provide to the community. The experts also proved that the water flow deviations through the tunnels and the reduction of the water amount in the riverbed will cause irreparable damage to the environment. Water flow is the main indicator of the nature of the physical environment in rivers and streams which in itself is an indicator of the biotic composition. In the Valley of Valbonë, some endemic plant and animal species were found in addition to a few important habitats protected by international conventions (Berne Convention, Habitat Directive) and species endangered on a global scale. However, the Gerner 2 company, which is currently in the works of building the biggest hydro power plant claims that it has drafted and is in the process of implementing an all-inclusive plan for the environmental management and rehabilitation. This plan considers the implementation of a series of measures which will optimize the project in favor of the community as well as follow a hierarchy of facilitating actions to avoid and reduce any impact on the environment:, such as controlling and protection from erosion, preventing pollution, waste management, rehabilitation of areas impacted by the project, management of natural resources as well as the management of the area’s cultural heritage.   [post_title] => Valbona, the river between tourism and hydropower plants [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => valbona-the-river-between-tourism-and-hydropower-plants [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-11-01 13:16:12 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-11-01 12:16:12 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143417 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 143252 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2019-10-10 11:19:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-10 09:19:14 [post_content] => On October 1st,  Agro & Social Fund announced the official launch of the BORROW WISELY! campaign – a one month educational campaign aimed mainly at current and potential clients.  The campaign is organised under the auspices of the Microfinance Centre, an international organisation which promotes international customer protection standards and financial education. It will run in fourteen countries, including Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Moldova, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Romania, Greece & Tajikistan. The BORROW WISELY! campaign draws together a simple checklist of questions for customers to ask themselves before taking a loan, in order to ensure they take on safe and responsible levels of debt.  Throughout the campaign, which runs all October, Agro & Social Fund’s staff will actively approach existing and potential customers with a wide-ranging information campaign, including posters, leaflets and brochures. Licensed by the Bank of Albania, Agro & Social Fund is a microcredit financial institution, which started operating in the Albanian market in 2001 under the name Building Future, a microfinance program of World Vision Albania. The institution is focused on micro, small and medium-sized businesses, agribusinesses, in rural and urban areas, to promote entrepreneurship and business development, sustainable development of local communities, support for marginalized groups, in order to fight poverty, contribute to the creation of new jobs, push for the economic growth of the country and social cohesion. Agro & Social Fund’s activity is based on principles such as respect of clients, transparency in communication, confidentiality, non-discrimination, and avoidance of overindebtedness. As a member of Microfinance Centre, it promotes international standards of customer protection and financial education.  Given Agro & Social Fund's daily activity on financial education and customer awareness toward over indebtedness; as part of their mission they have joined the campaign Borrow Wisely. #2019BWC. The BORROW WISELY! campaign draws together a simple checklist of questions for customers to ask themselves before taking a loan, in order to ensure they take on safe and responsible levels of debt.  Throughout the campaign, which runs all October, Agro & Social Fund’s staff will actively approach existing and potential customers with a wide-ranging information campaign, including posters, leaflets and brochures. The institution will partake in organizing campaign presentations at university auditors, as well as joining regional and local activities throughout October 2019.   [post_title] => Agro & Social Fund launches the BORROW WISELY! Campaign [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => agro-social-fund-launches-the-borrow-wisely-campaign [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-10-11 11:25:10 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-11 09:25:10 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143252 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 143146 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2019-09-25 10:55:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-09-25 08:55:19 [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 24 - The Chinese Embassy to Tirana celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on Tuesday evening at the premises of the National History Museum in Tirana with an official reception. The reception was attended by the highest leaders of the Albanian state, President Ilir Meta, Speaker of Parliament Gramoz Ruci, Chairman of the Parliamentary Group of the Albania-China Friendship Bashkim Fino and other senior personalities of Albanian political, economic and cultural life, as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps in Tirana. After welcoming guests, Ambassador Zhou Ding expressed solidarity with the Albanians who were affected by the strong earthquake during the weekend.  "The Chinese people and the Chinese Embassy will always stand by you and we are ready to help," said Ambassador Zhou Ding.  He pointed out that seven decades after its creation, the People's Republic of China has contributed to more than 30 percent of global growth. The ambassador underlined that China has built the world's largest social security network, reducing the impoverished population from 770 million to less than 20 million.  “China has built the world's largest mobile communications network as well as the largest high-speed rail system,” Mr. Zhou Ding said The Chinese ambassador further added that in the next 15 years China's import of goods and services is expected to exceed $ 30 trillion and $ 10 trillion respectively, which represent huge opportunities for Albania, Europe and the world. Referring to the current developments, Ambassador Zhou Ding guaranteed China's support for Albania's EU membership and assessed that in the framework of the "One Belt One Road" initiative and the "17 + 1" Cooperation Mechanism the two countries have deepened mutual political trust, exchanges and two-way cooperation in trade, education, tourism and human resources. Responding to the interest of the Albanian and Chinese media at the ceremony, President Meta praised the Albanian-Chinese exchanges during the 70 years of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations.   "We are very pleased with the level of current relations between our two countries, as I can underline that for at least two decades relations between the two countries and the two peoples have been excellent and China has made a tremendous contribution to development, modernization, industrialization of Albania in that period ” "We are happy that after a period of stagnation, not due to China's fault, our relations have again returned to this very positive tradition of friendly relations and quite open and beneficial to both our countries and peoples. I am convinced that the prospect of relationships is in all fields and not just in the field of trade, but also in investment in different sectors,” Meta added. The ceremony was accompanied by music, conversation and warm red colors to celebrate Chinese history and culture.    [post_title] => China celebrates 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => china-celebrates-70th-anniversary-of-the-founding-of-the-peoples-republic-of-china [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-09-30 10:57:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-09-30 08:57:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143146 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 143149 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2019-09-23 10:58:06 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-09-23 08:58:06 [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 23 - The National HIstoric Museum inaugurated on Monday, Sept. 23, the “Belt and Road” Chinese traditional art exhibition, brought for the public by the Chines Embassy to Tirana.  The exhibition, which stayed open for two days only, was followed by the “Musical Encounters Between two Words” concert, which took place in the UNESCO Hall of the museum. Attended by art enthusiasts, friends of the Chinese Embassy to Tirana and artists alike, the exhibition displayed a number of intricate Chinese art forms, starting from Chinese calligraphy, to beautiful paper cutting. Ambassador Zhou Ding expressed gratitude to hold the opening remarks of the exhibition one day before China celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, saying the artwork brought to Albania are some of the most delicate representatives of traditional chinese art. “As you can see, many of these artworks show the friendship between Albania and China. During these 70 years, with all the changes through time and the systemic and cultural differences, this friendship has been planted in the hearts of our people. Among the authors of these artworks are older and middle generation artists, but also young highschool students, which is a happy and encouraging fact, as it means this friendship is being passed to the next generation,” Ambassador Ding said. Adding that Albanian and Chinese art share the same features of openness and inclusiveness which brings them close to each other naturally, the ambassador said the exhibition serves to connect the hearts of both people and invited all guests to enjoy.   [post_title] => National Historic Museum hosts “The Belt and Road” Chinese traditional art exhibition [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => national-historic-museum-hosts-the-belt-and-road-chinese-traditional-art-exhibition [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-09-30 11:05:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-09-30 09:05:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143149 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 143051 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2019-09-11 09:25:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-09-11 07:25:57 [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 11 - The Spanish Embassy in Albania shared on Tuesday the news of Luz Casal's concert on Saturday, September 14, in Tirana’s amphitheatre by the artificial lake.  It’s Casal’s first time in Albania throughout her artistic career, a concert which will be accompanied by Albanian singer Ardian Trebicka and with the support of the Ministry of Culture and the Municipality of Tirana. Casal began her career in Spain in the 1980s with an international presentation, thanks to her collaboration with Pedro Almodovar in the film "Tacones Lejanos".  She has sold over 5 million CDs and has a number of international concerts and is known as one of the most popular solo singers in Spain.  The concert, which will also feature surprises, with the presence of Ardian Trebicka, will be held at the newly-built amphitheater on Saturday, September 14, at 8:00 pm and tickets are on sale at the myticket.al portal. The Spanish Embassy in Albania supports the institutional and logistical activities of the event.    [post_title] => Spanish artist Luz Casal to give concert in Tirana [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => spanish-artist-luz-casal-to-give-concert-in-tirana [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-09-11 09:25:57 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-09-11 07:25:57 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143051 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 144024 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2020-01-20 17:41:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-01-20 16:41:00 [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 20 - The pan-European Federation for Cultural Heritage 'Europa Nostra' made another appeal for the protection of Albania's National Theater on Monday, addressing in a letter the country’s President Ilir Meta, Prime Minister Edi Rama and Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj, in which it once again emphasized its position against the building’s demolition.  According to 'Europe Nostra', the NT is a place of great cultural and architectural importance, not only in the Albanian capital, but also in Europe. Further, it is recalled in the letter that the theater has been nominated by the Gjirokastra Foundation as part of a major civil society campaign to save the building for the program "7 Most Endangered Places by 2020.”  In this context, ‘Europa Nostra’ writes that it would be a pity if the building is demolished.   Letters to heads of state    Subjected ‘National Theater of Albania selected for the 7 most endangered locations,’ the letter addressed Meta by saying the federation is “deeply troubled by alarming plans” to demolish the building and calling for Meta to use his position and influence to protect it.  “Based on the unanimous assessment, presented by the National Theater Advisory Panel of Albania, the National Theater will most likely be selected as one of the "7 most endangered venues". I would also like to add that Albanian sites have been selected twice in the past: Durres Amphitheater and Post-Byzantine Churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuq. In both cases, Europa Nostra found the cooperation with Albanian actors positive and effective, emphasizing the consideration and respect your country has for preserving cultural heritage,” the letter to Meta further stated.  On a similar note, the letter addressed to Rama starts off by saying the PM “is probably aware” that Europa Nostra is deeply troubled by the government’s plans to demolish the building.  “For this reason, we also sent you a letter on July 18, 2018, stressing the importance of the facility and urging you to use your honored position and positive influence to protect the precious National Theater of Albania,” the letter to Rama states.  None of the 29 venues previously selected in the "7 Most Endangered Locations" program has been demolished and it would be a novelty if such a miserable fate had been reserved for the National Theater of Albania, with all the support shown nationally and on a European scale,” the letter also says.   The letter to Veliaj was similar to the other two, with the federation reminding Veliaj that “the National Theater of Albania was nominated by the Gjirokastra Foundation, as part of a major civil society campaign to save the building, for the ‘7 Most Endangered Places for 2020’ program. It is a widespread civil society campaign across Europe that identifies endangered monuments and sites in Europe and engages public and private partners at local, national and European levels to ensure a vibrant and sustainable future for sites.”   [post_title] => Cultural heritage federation appeals to heads of state for National Theatre protection [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => cultural-heritage-federation-appeals-to-heads-of-state-for-national-theatre-protection [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-24 17:58:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-24 16:58:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=144024 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [queried_object] => stdClass Object ( [term_id] => 31 [name] => Culture [slug] => culture [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 31 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 3135 [filter] => raw [cat_ID] => 31 [category_count] => 3135 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Culture [category_nicename] => culture [category_parent] => 0 ) [queried_object_id] => 31 [post__not_in] => Array ( ) )

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