WWI Austro-Hungarian submarine discovered in southern Albania waters

WWI Austro-Hungarian submarine discovered in southern Albania waters

TIRANA, Oct. 19 – Czech divers have discovered the wreck of an Austro-Hungarian submarine destroyed in southern Albania during World War I. “Austro-Hungarian submarine U16 was destroyed on October 16, 1916, most probably after the collision with the Italian torpedo

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Robert Elsie’s last wish comes true as Albanologist laid to rest in Albanian Alps

Robert Elsie’s last wish comes true as Albanologist laid to rest in Albanian Alps

TIRANA, Oct. 18 – Robert Elsie’s last wish has finally been fulfilled. The famous Canadian-German who dedicated his life to Albanian studies will rest in Theth amid the Albanian Alps, a place which he loved so much and also dedicated

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Awareness Concert: “Don’t touch Vjosa”

Awareness Concert: “Don’t touch Vjosa”

TIRANA, Oct. 18 – One year after the awareness concerts dedicated to protecting the river Valbonë (“Don’t touch Valbona”) and stopping waste from being imported to Albania (“No to waste import in Albania”), famous Albanian artists make a comeback to

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“DIHA – Oktoberfest”

“DIHA – Oktoberfest”

DIHA (the German Association for Industry and Trade in Albania) stands by a now well-established tradition and organizes the famous Oktoberfest again this year, bringing the authentic ‘Wiesn’ atmosphere of the celebration to Tirana. The DIHA-Oktoberfest event will host you

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“Behind Masks”

“Behind Masks”

TIRANA, Oct. 18 – The emerging Albanian artist named Emanuel Koko has created masks, which will be on display at an exposition hosted by the Kalo Gallery, starting on the 18th of October, at 6pm. His exhibition seems to be

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“Grand Tour Italia”

“Grand Tour Italia”

TIRANA, Oct. 6 – Franco Fontana, an internationally-known, contemporary Italian photographer, brings his exhibition to Tirana, after having presented it in Strasburg, Split, Riga, Beograd, Zagreb etc.. In cooperation with the Italian Culture Institute, the exhibition, which opened its doors

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“In the Land of Eagles, 2015-2017”

“In the Land of Eagles, 2015-2017”

TIRANA, Oct. 13 – Virginie Caquot, a French photographer who spent two years in Albania, will exhibit her photo collection named “In the Land of Eagles, 2015-2017”  at the National Gallery of Arts, starting on the 13th of October. The

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Butrint’s UNESCO-protected archaeological treasure threatened by unplanned construction

Butrint’s UNESCO-protected archaeological treasure threatened by unplanned construction

TIRANA, Oct. 10 – The Butrint National Park, an archaeological site of particular historic and cultural importance, has drawn attention following media reports that construction work has begun within the area, which is protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage

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Rediscovering the Albanian mountains

Rediscovering the Albanian mountains

The Embassy of Austria in Tirana, in cooperation with the Albanian Alpinism Association, will organize a cultural event aimed at promoting Albanian tourism, on Friday, the 29th of September. The event, which will take place in Razëm of the Malësi

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Gjirokastra – an architectural treasure that needs to be protected

Gjirokastra – an architectural treasure that needs to be protected

Gjirokastër made it to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 2005, thanks to the city’s rare architectural character originating in the Ottoman period. Particularly noteworthy are the city’s two-story houses, developed in the 17th century, which still maintain their unique roofs

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 19 - Czech divers have discovered the wreck of an Austro-Hungarian submarine destroyed in southern Albania during World War I.

“Austro-Hungarian submarine U16 was destroyed on October 16, 1916, most probably after the collision with the Italian torpedo boat Nembo. After that, the submarine was deliberately crashed by the Italian steamer Bormida,” the Czech embassy in Tirana said in a statement.

The discovery has taken place close to the coast of Karaburun peninsula, southern Albania where the Adriatic meets the Ionian Sea.

The tiny now uninhabited 5.7 km2 island of Sazan, a military base which has been open to tourists since last May, and the Karaburun peninsula, form the first and only national marine park of Albania.

The marine park features ruins of sunken Greek, Roman and World War II ships, rich underwater fauna, steep cliffs and giant caves, ancient inscriptions of sailors on shore, secluded beaches, and breathtaking views of the coastline.

The Austro-Hungarian submarine, lying at a depth of 60 meters, was discovered by a Czech diving team of technical divers, historians and documentarians in their second Albania expedition conducted in late September.

The team said there is proof the submarine was built in 1915 and designed to protect the borders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as well as to attack vessels of their enemy.

During their first two Albania expeditions, the Czech Diving Team also documented in detail the wreck of Italian ship Regina Margherita as well as two Austro-Hungarian ships, S/S Linz and S/S Wien.

The Albania discovery came as part of a number of expeditions the Czech Diving Team has carried out dealing with sunken vessels associated with the history of the Czech Republic, part of the former Austro-Hungarian empire.

More and more Czech tourists, known for their passion for Albanian mountains and adventure tourism, have been visiting Albania in the past few years, with regular direct flights linking Prague to Tirana offered during the summer tourist season.

Some 14,000 Czech tourists visited Albania in 2016, a majority of whom on Travel Service, the largest Czech carrier.

The submarine discovery comes few days after another Austro-Hungarian steamship came to light at the Shkodra Lake in northern Albania.

The drastic decline in water levels at the Shkodra Lake, northern Albania, following one of the worst droughts in decades brought to light in early September 2017 a 19th century Austro-Hungarian steamship which is believed to have sunken in Shiroka, a tourist lake village just outside Shkodra.

The military vessel, known by local residents as the Austrian ship, is a steamboat measuring 20 meters long and 4 meters wide, bearing testimony to Shkodra Lake waters having been navigable by early 20th century when water levels are estimated to have been much higher.

The discovered ships are also testimony to Albania’s traditional relations with former Austria-Hungary and Austria, one of the key allies of Albania from the country’s independence to present-day support for Euro-Atlantic integration.

This is not the first time shipwrecks and other underwater items dating back from ancient times to World War II have been discovered in Albanian waters.

Scanning the southern Albanian waters along the Riviera coastline, a U.S.-Albanian expedition has discovered numerous amphoras and artefacts including ancient Greek, Roman, medial and modern finds during the past decade. Dozens of wreck sites including warships and armoured vehicles have also been discovered.
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_134189" align="alignright" width="200"]Robert Elsie poses dressed in Albanian national folklore costume. Photo: elsie.de Robert Elsie poses dressed in Albanian national folklore costume. Photo: elsie.de[/caption]

TIRANA, Oct. 18 – Robert Elsie’s last wish has finally been fulfilled. The famous Canadian-German who dedicated his life to Albanian studies will rest in Theth amid the Albanian Alps, a place which he loved so much and also dedicated a book calling it Albania's rugged Shangri-La, a fictional valley as described in a novel by British author James Hilton.

Two weeks after dying of a rare disease in Germany, Elise made his last Albania trip this week to rest forever in the country he loved so much and dedicated three decades of his life to promote Albanian literature, folk culture and history as well as photography through his English and German translations and research work in Albanian-speaking territories in the region.

Elsie, who died at 67 of the rare motor neurone disease, was given his last farewell at a ceremony at the National Library in Tirana on Wednesday before being buried in Theth, northern Albania.

Stephan Trierweiler, Elsie’s German life partner, said the Albanologist loved Albania so much that he decided Elsie must be buried in Albania although he had made no will about it.

"He made a will which is very intimate, but left nothing in writing to be buried in Albania. It is was me who decided that he should be buried here because he loved this country so much,” Trierweiler said at a farewell ceremony in Tirana bringing together academics, friends and politicians from Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia paying tribute to the Albanologist.

“I chose Theth as the most beloved place for Albanologists. He left with no regrets. He didn't leave any major unpublished work. He managed to complete two other works until he died. The last words on his deathbed were ‘death is so boring. So Slow. One only waits for it,’” he added.

In his co-authored "A passion for Theth: Albania's rugged Shangri-La" Robert Elsie and Dutch traveler Gerda Mulder introduce the region with the writings of the early explorers and travelers to the valley, accompanied by old photographs of the period.

"Though it is one of the remotest corners of Europe, Theth has never failed to attract visitors. Edith Durham was in her element when she visited the valley in 1908, as were the Austro-Hungarian scholars Karl Steinmetz and Baron Franz Nopcsa, and the American writer Rose Wilder Lane," they write about Theth, which has in the past few years turned into one of Albania's most popular mountain tourism destinations.

Albania’s President Ilir Meta said Elsie’s unique contribution and love for Albania should serve as inspiration for Albanians.

"We will always be grateful to Robert Elsie for everything he did with so much love and passion for the promotion of our nation, our best cultural, historical values, the development of Albanology and everything,” said Meta.

“No doubt, in particular for his choice to be immortalized as Albanian and rest forever in the Albanian Alps, in Theth, and in this way showing his eternal love for our country and giving us all a lesson to love Albania more," he added.

Rexhep Smajli, a Kosovo academician who knew Elsie since his early engagement with Albanian studies, says he will be remembered as "window and voice for Albanian culture at a time when our voice was not well-known where he worked.”

“He came among Albanians in all the territories they lived even in Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece, Calabria, with the good will to get to know Albanians as much as possible and transmit this acquaintance everywhere,” said the Kosovo academician.

Elsie also had a passion for Albanian dialects and collected dozens of recordings by travelling and meeting Albanian community people also in southern Italy, Greece, Croatia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Ukraine.

“He did that as professionally as possible and slowly fell in love with this country and we can say he has been one of greatest friends of the Albanian world. In very difficult times, he spread the Albanian culture, more than anybody else did before him. He was present among senior European institutions where the fates of Albanians were decided, either through his services, mediation or even technical services such as interpreting,” said the Kosovo academician.

Among others, Elsie also worked as an Albanian translator and interpreter for the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was active as a freelance conference interpreter for Albanian and took part in many high-level negotiations with the EU, UN, NATO.

What’s particular about his translations and research work, is that he loved to share them with the wider public by regularly posting them on his personal website and social media.

Elsie's premature death at a time when he was active with Albanian studies until recently was described as a big blow for Albanian studies and their international promotion.

Born in Canada and having studied and worked in Germany, Elsie’s first contact with Albania came in the late 1970s when the Linguistics Institute of the University of Bonn had rare and privileged contacts with the then-hermetic “People’s Socialist Republic of Albania” which he visited for several years.

“These annual trips to Albania in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and travel in neighbouring Kosovo awakened in him a passion for the exotic country and its little-known culture,” according to a bio published on his website.

Probably his most ambitious literary publication was the English translation from the northern Albanian Gheg dialect of the great literary epic of Father Gjergj Fishta (1871-1940), The Highland Lute: The Albanian National Epic, London 2005, a work in thirty cantos and 15,613 lines. The revival of this epic, long banned under the communist regime, was received with great enthusiasm, in particular in northern Albania.

Back in 2013, former Albanian President Bujar Nishani awarded Elsie the “Gratitude Medal” as one of the most prominent Albanologists who for more than 30 years contributed to the international promotion of Albanian culture, language, literature and history.

Robert Austin, a professor at the University of Toronto, described Elsie as by far the most prolific Albanian scholar.

"The community of scholars devoted to the study of Albania and Albanians is a small and devoted one. Elsie was by far the most prolific. His contributions were always seminal. Indeed, you cannot study Albania without engaging with his wonderful scholarship," said Austin, a specialist on Southeastern Europe historic and contemporary perspective and a senior associate fellow of the Albanian Institute for International Studies.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 18 – One year after the awareness concerts dedicated to protecting the river Valbonë (“Don’t touch Valbona”) and stopping waste from being imported to Albania (“No to waste import in Albania”), famous Albanian artists make a comeback to the city’s main square, next to the National History Museum, to protect another river deemed Europe’s wild treasure – Vjosa. 

   The organizers’ statement, posted in Facebook, speaks of respect towards nature’s boundaries, appreciation of the gifts nature bestows upon us and the possibility of awareness through art. The following is communicated: “Art will not save the world and might not be able to repent the sins committed by decision-makers towards society, the earth, nature, water, or whichever uncertain life situation. Art can only provide a peaceful voice that provides awareness and activity towards our incorrigible collective decisions, for which each of us should fight, at the right time and moment. Respect and consideration of nature are the basis for a worthy life, in a worthy society.”

     The Vjosa River has major social and cultural values. For the people living along its shore, Vjosa plays a vital role in their everyday lives, as it offers productive soil for the development of agriculture and kettle. The variety and richness of the Vjosa fish is an essential economic factor, which keeps local fishermen alive. Recreational tourism in Vjosa is gaining momentum especially in the last years, during which sports like rafting, padding and swimming are becoming famous. The existence of small businesses and ecotourism companies depend on Vjosa being wild. Besides all above-mentioned facts, the crystal-clear river has an emotional value for Albanians, who perceive it a cultural inheritance site. 

   Moreover, Vjosa is a European treasure and its biggest value can be found in the river’s integrity. The building of dams would destroy its unique ecosystem and lower the river’s potential to develop steady ecotourism in the region. In this context, Vjosa is the only wild river remaining in Europe. Friedrich Schiemer, of the Vienna University, has said the following about Vjosa: “For us, Vjosa is like finding a lucky island lost in time. In this paradise, we can study the universal values a wild river offers. No rivers like that exist in Europe.” 

   Momentarily, Vjosa – along with all rivers in the country – is threatened by Albania’s plan to build around 500 hydropower centrals. Ironically, Austrian and German researchers are advocating for the protection of Albanian rivers and expressing regret that majestic rivers such as the Danube, Rhein and Main have been built on to the point of no return. “We ask a lot of Albanians,” Schiemer added. “In the past, no one was genuinely interested about the wild state of rivers. When we built hydropower centrals and controlled rivers, we knew little about their complex dynamic. We want to prevent Albanians from committing the same mistakes we did in the past.”

   This concert comes to support the “Save the blue heart of Europe” campaign, which is carried through by EcoAlbania, Riverwatch and EuroNatur, and it is sponsored by PATAGONIA and MAVA. More information can be found on the websites: www.ecoalbania.org and www.balkanrivers.net

 
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                    [post_content] => DIHA (the German Association for Industry and Trade in Albania) stands by a now well-established tradition and organizes the famous Oktoberfest again this year, bringing the authentic ‘Wiesn’ atmosphere of the celebration to Tirana. The DIHA-Oktoberfest event will host you not only through German beers, and delicious Bavarian food, but also through music. 

The traditional Oktoberfest music band ‘Gaudi Blos’n’ coming from Munich will perform both nights, offering a relaxed and original atmosphere and experience. The hall will be decorated in blue and white and offer a capacity of 450 seats around tables and a dancing stage. The ticket, which costs 1500 ALL, will include 0.5l of ‘Paulaner’ beer – a German classic – and different German dishes
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 18 – The emerging Albanian artist named Emanuel Koko has created masks, which will be on display at an exposition hosted by the Kalo Gallery, starting on the 18th of October, at 6pm. His exhibition seems to be mainly inspired by an anonymous Baroque poet, who, with bravely and revolt, said: “We are not humans, we are masks, living masks that talk to each other, enter into communication and friendship with each other.” This exhibition is a manifestation of the poet’s claim that we, as humans, have a great desire to hide behind a mask. 

   Masks have been used several millennia ago, from primitive people, who were very keen to show a kind of unimpeachable authority through wearing them. In ancient Rome, the word persona meant ‘a mask’. Staying behind the mask one could believe to be protected by hiding out. In other circumstances they were simply used for performance or entertainment. So, the masks have been traveling with men throughout of the history of mankind. Koko’s masks are made in various shapes and media, such as ceramic, terracotta, metal, stone, wood, etc.

   Now the world we live in has got great scientific achievements, high technology, the highest forms of organization of social life. Nevertheless, masks are still present in our modern lives because still today, masking, hypocrisy, concealment of true feelings and thoughts is part of personal efforts to be accepted by the society.

   Increasing means of communication in social networks has enabled the multiplication of masking. However, the masks, the recorded moments of joy, amusement, beauty, sadness, melancholy, and all other senses that you can find as materialized in this exhibition, will not deceive you. There are masks of common people, of different sexes and ages, from different time zones.

   You will get the impression that masks are actually looking at us as if we are being displayed. They will look at our quasi-mask-faces. Finally, the masks are ringing the alarm bell, appealing for more honesty and high integrity by humans. The exhibition will be open until the 5th of November 2017.  

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 6 – Franco Fontana, an internationally-known, contemporary Italian photographer, brings his exhibition to Tirana, after having presented it in Strasburg, Split, Riga, Beograd, Zagreb etc.. In cooperation with the Italian Culture Institute, the exhibition, which opened its doors on the 6th of October at the National History Museum, will be available for the public eye until the 5th of November. 

   Fontana was born in Modena, in 1933, and he started taking amateur photographs in 1961. His first photography exhibitions were held in Torino, in 1965, and Modena, in 1968. His artistic expression was created during 1970, and was mainly based on the colors and applied geometry that can be noticed in the Italian scenery. Through his lenses, any view – be it urban, rural or industrial – turns into a magical place. Natural shapes turn into surprising colorful backgrounds and the view turns into a vision. Through some now-historical photographs, Fontana established himself on an international level as one of the inventors of colorful photography, particularly as one of the first photographers able to convey in entirely projected language thinking in color, inspired by nature and light. 

   In 1978, two years after taking up professional photography, he presented Skyline – the first of his many expositions; since then, he has gained international fame by presenting his work to the entire world. From the 1970’s until today he has published more than 40 books in Italy, France, Switzerland, Spain, USA and Japan and has exhibited his work in more than 400 personal and joint exhibitions all around the world.  

   The trans-avangard work of Fontana – deemed that way because of his frequent use of color and deep geometric lines – can be found on the second floor of the National History Museum, and will be open Monday through Sunday, from 9am till 7.30pm, until the 15th of October and Tuesday through Saturday, from 10am to 5pm, and Sundays from 9am to 2pm, from the 16th of October until the end date of the exhibition. 
                    [post_title] => “Grand Tour Italia”
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                    [post_date] => 2017-10-13 11:32:40
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-13 09:32:40
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 13 – Virginie Caquot, a French photographer who spent two years in Albania, will exhibit her photo collection named “In the Land of Eagles, 2015-2017”  at the National Gallery of Arts, starting on the 13th of October. The photographs have captured moments from people’s every-day-lives, the atmosphere and different events.

   This black-and-white exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Arts in partnership with Rezart Jasa, coordinator of the “Les tempts forts entre l’Albanie et la France” agreement, in the framework of bilateral cultural exchanges between the countries. The project, however, was conceptualized and brought to life by the photographer herself, who travelled the country from September 2015 until July 2017 in order to present her point of view of the country through 30 photographs of a medium format. 

   Concerning her art and this particular project, Caquot said the following: “My photography is mainly intuitive, led by daily, common situations I stumble upon during my travels. I also try to make it aesthetic, poetic or strange, because it’s the language of my expression, the reflection of my emotions, and I expect it to convey much more than I could through words. It is a visual dialog between me and the spectator. It’s up to the spectator to discover these moments through my point of view. In this exhibition, I offer the spectator my vision of Albania today.”

   Caquot is an independent photographer coming from the French city of Lille. She graduated in her city’s university for History-Geography and Social Development and initially worked as a teacher. In 2012, Caquot decided to fully dedicate herself to photography, which had been her hobby for 20 years. “In the Land of Eagles, 2015-2017” is one of several Albania-inspired exhibitions from the photographer; previously, she has presented “Tirana along the streets”, “Albania in Our Eyes”, “Albanian Instants” and “Look at a Singular City”. Information on all her exhibitions can be found on the photographer’s official website. 

   A press conference will be held on the day of the exhibition’s inauguration, at 11am, while the photographs will be available to guests starting at 6pm of the same day, until the 23rd of October.

 
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                    [post_date] => 2017-10-10 15:36:33
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 10 – The Butrint National Park, an archaeological site of particular historic and cultural importance, has drawn attention following media reports that construction work has begun within the area, which is protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. The construction work is reportedly taking place in the vicinity of a prehistoric wall that dates back to the VII-VIII century B.C., even though UNESCO’s directives prohibit construction within the park, unless it is for restoration or maintenance purposes. The Director of the National Park, Gjergji Mano, told local media construction work has begun with the permission of the Ministry of Culture, however it is also reported that UNESCO has not been properly consulted concerning the issue.

  Ever since it was inhabited in prehistoric times, Butrint – which is located near Sarandë - has been the host of a Greek colony, a Roman city and a bishopric. Under Byzantine rule, the city grew prosperous, but it was followed by a short Venetian occupation and was later abandoned in the Middle Ages. Today, the ruins located at the archeological site offer a great insight on each of the city’s periodical developments. Due to these unique properties, UNESCO’s official website states that “the protections and conservation of the archeological monuments is covered by the law on Cultural Heritage.”  

   Pictures taken by Shqiptarja.com show that the construction of the object – which will be a multi-functional centre – is taking place in the Acropolis of Butrint, next to the Venetian Tower, which is the highest of the site. The company which has been given the right to construction in the protected area is Hako sh.p.k., and while the centre will be a privately owned business aiming to monetary profit, the Minister of Culture, Mirela Kumbaro, claims the project is in line with UNESCO’s rules. 

   More specifically, Kumbaro gave the following brief statement to Report TV: “No concrete and iron can be found in the context you present. This project is approved 100% within all criteria and rules.” Replying to another question regarding this issue, which has now become a permanent concern for activists and media alike, Kumbaro argued that “the adaption of existing structures that offer trade services with temporary structures is underway, in full accordance with the parameters predicted by UNESCO’s convents.”  

   However, during an exclusive interview for Shqiptarja.com, the Director of the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO, Mechtild Rössler, stated otherwise. Concerning the construction work, which begun on the 2nd of October, Rössler said she was notified at the end of the previous week and asked other state institutions for additional information on the 9th of October, two days after Kumbaro claimed to have consulted UNESCO regarding the issue. 

   Rössler was also asked whether the Albanian Ministry of Culture has the right to grant construction work plans within Butrint as part of a managerial plan. To this, she replied the following: “According to the convent for the preservation of World Heritage sites, it is Albania’s responsibility, as a country that has signed the convent, to evaluate and make sure that no development will take place that might impact the universal values of integrity and authenticity that made Butrint a World Heritage site in 1992.” She also added, when asked whether a previous archeological examination of the area was necessary before approving the construction project, that “the specific influence this project will have on Butrint’s universal values, specifically those of authenticity and integrity of the archeological layers, will need to be thoroughly reexamined by UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, including the ICOMOS Advisory Body, based on the information provided by the convent’s consignee country.” 

   Another issue brought to attention by the media concerns 33 families in Butrint, which might be shun away from the area in which they have been authorized to sell artisanal souvenirs to visitors in an attempt to integrate the community with Butrint’s cultural inheritance. This could be the possible outcome of establishing the multi-functional centre, which in turn will be acting against the local community’s interests. Concerning UNESCO’s stand in regard to this issue, Rössler said that “the inclusion of local communities in defending and managing the properties of World Heritage sites is an essential basis for the long-term preservation of these sites. Subsequently, UNESCO promotes activities around World Heritage sites that can help local communities benefit from the tourism industry, including artisanal work and the general development of the region. In Butrint’s case, the mechanisms we can put to work so that monetary profits can be shared with the community will be carefully examined.”

   One of the last points mentioned by Rössler is that according to Act 106 of the Operational Directives for the implementation of the World Heritage convention, each World Heritage property should have a plan of a managing system. Albania’s last official managing plan belongs the period 2000-2005; a second managing draft was evaluated by ICOMOS International in 2013, while UNESCO is still expecting a final version of the managing plan by the Ministry of Culture. 

   In relation to all above-mentioned facts, Kumbaro has been summoned to a hearing by the Media Committee on the 11th of October. Even though she stated that all questions will be answered during the hearing with the Commission, where she will also bring the documentation of her correspondence with UNESCO, reports by Shqiptarja.com notify that journalists are not being allowed entrance within the Butrint National Park, for which the park’s director claims a permission by the Ministry of Culture is required for a second entrance, even for tourists. 

 
                    [post_title] => Butrint’s UNESCO-protected archaeological treasure threatened by unplanned construction 
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                    [post_date] => 2017-09-29 11:38:31
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-29 09:38:31
                    [post_content] => The Embassy of Austria in Tirana, in cooperation with the Albanian Alpinism Association, will organize a cultural event aimed at promoting Albanian tourism, on Friday, the 29th of September. The event, which will take place in Razëm of the Malësi e Madhe, is organized in the context of the project “rediscovering Albanian mountains”, supported by the Embassy of Austria and the Austrian Agency for Development. 

This event is an addition to many similar ones, which have taken place in Tirana and Korça. In organizing these events, the Embassy doesn’t just focus on involving inhabitants and local actors with Albanian mountain tourism, but also on initiating and promoting hiking as a tool to explore our common soil and to maintain a healthy body and spirit. The Ambassador of the Republic of Austria, Johann Sattler, the mayor of Malësi e Madhe, Tonin Marinaj and the President of the Alpinism Federation, Jani Zizo, will greet the initiation of the event.

Students from the Austrian IT institutions and locals who are interested have been invited by the Embassy to also attend a hike, which will start at 10 am, on the day of the event, from the Natural Rasma Resort. The event will proceed with a joint conference at 12 pm, on mountain tourism and rescue. Some of the topics discussed in the conference will be: the touristic potential and promotion of mountain tourism, the possibility to support the construction project of an Alpine Centre for Malësi e Madhe, the contribution of hotels and restaurants in the development of mountain tourism, as well as the development of bicycle tourism. The event will conclude with a cocktail organized by the Embassy of Austria. 
                    [post_title] => Rediscovering the Albanian mountains 	
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                    [post_date] => 2017-09-29 11:32:56
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-29 09:32:56
                    [post_content] => Gjirokastër made it to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 2005, thanks to the city’s rare architectural character originating in the Ottoman period. Particularly noteworthy are the city’s two-story houses, developed in the 17th century, which still maintain their unique roofs and offer a picturesque view of the city. In light of recent reconstructions and urban development, expert builders of Gjirokastër’s roofs stress how important maintaining the city’s traditional exterior is.

On a reportage made by the Voice of America, builders were interviewed concerning the intricate methods of building the roofs. Raif Huso, an expert at building Gjirokastër’s roofs, said that “Gjirokastër is a specialty of its own nature. The buildings are unique, as no roof is exactly similar with another. Every wood placed to uphold the tiles is a solution in itself.” 

However, the decreasing number of young constructors who are being taught the method of building Gjirokastër’s roofs is a point of concern for the survival of an art form. For this reason, Gjirokastër’s roof workers appeal to a careful and well-thought of remodeling, as well as the involvement of young workers in learning the craft, in order to preserve the city’s globally appreciated heritage. 
                    [post_title] => Gjirokastra – an architectural treasure that needs to be protected
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            [post_date] => 2017-10-19 17:05:57
            [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-19 15:05:57
            [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 19 - Czech divers have discovered the wreck of an Austro-Hungarian submarine destroyed in southern Albania during World War I.

“Austro-Hungarian submarine U16 was destroyed on October 16, 1916, most probably after the collision with the Italian torpedo boat Nembo. After that, the submarine was deliberately crashed by the Italian steamer Bormida,” the Czech embassy in Tirana said in a statement.

The discovery has taken place close to the coast of Karaburun peninsula, southern Albania where the Adriatic meets the Ionian Sea.

The tiny now uninhabited 5.7 km2 island of Sazan, a military base which has been open to tourists since last May, and the Karaburun peninsula, form the first and only national marine park of Albania.

The marine park features ruins of sunken Greek, Roman and World War II ships, rich underwater fauna, steep cliffs and giant caves, ancient inscriptions of sailors on shore, secluded beaches, and breathtaking views of the coastline.

The Austro-Hungarian submarine, lying at a depth of 60 meters, was discovered by a Czech diving team of technical divers, historians and documentarians in their second Albania expedition conducted in late September.

The team said there is proof the submarine was built in 1915 and designed to protect the borders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as well as to attack vessels of their enemy.

During their first two Albania expeditions, the Czech Diving Team also documented in detail the wreck of Italian ship Regina Margherita as well as two Austro-Hungarian ships, S/S Linz and S/S Wien.

The Albania discovery came as part of a number of expeditions the Czech Diving Team has carried out dealing with sunken vessels associated with the history of the Czech Republic, part of the former Austro-Hungarian empire.

More and more Czech tourists, known for their passion for Albanian mountains and adventure tourism, have been visiting Albania in the past few years, with regular direct flights linking Prague to Tirana offered during the summer tourist season.

Some 14,000 Czech tourists visited Albania in 2016, a majority of whom on Travel Service, the largest Czech carrier.

The submarine discovery comes few days after another Austro-Hungarian steamship came to light at the Shkodra Lake in northern Albania.

The drastic decline in water levels at the Shkodra Lake, northern Albania, following one of the worst droughts in decades brought to light in early September 2017 a 19th century Austro-Hungarian steamship which is believed to have sunken in Shiroka, a tourist lake village just outside Shkodra.

The military vessel, known by local residents as the Austrian ship, is a steamboat measuring 20 meters long and 4 meters wide, bearing testimony to Shkodra Lake waters having been navigable by early 20th century when water levels are estimated to have been much higher.

The discovered ships are also testimony to Albania’s traditional relations with former Austria-Hungary and Austria, one of the key allies of Albania from the country’s independence to present-day support for Euro-Atlantic integration.

This is not the first time shipwrecks and other underwater items dating back from ancient times to World War II have been discovered in Albanian waters.

Scanning the southern Albanian waters along the Riviera coastline, a U.S.-Albanian expedition has discovered numerous amphoras and artefacts including ancient Greek, Roman, medial and modern finds during the past decade. Dozens of wreck sites including warships and armoured vehicles have also been discovered.
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