Researchers to use drones for spotting sea turtle nests

Researchers to use drones for spotting sea turtle nests

TIRANA, July 19 – A project exploring sandy beaches for sporadic nesting of sea turtles that also involves the use of drones has been launched in Albania after the country’s first turtle nest has been officially documented in Divjaka, an

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Fifth edition of Vox Baroque International Festival returns across Albania

Fifth edition of Vox Baroque International Festival returns across Albania

TIRANA, July 19 – The fifth edition of the International Festival of Baroque Music ‘Vox Baroque’ returned to Albania during the first and second weeks of June, bringing Europe’s best instrumentalists and sopranos in the capital thanks to the devotion

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Tirana’s transformation praised during 2018 World Cities Summit in Singapore

Tirana’s transformation praised during 2018 World Cities Summit in Singapore

TIRANA, July 12 – Tirana was selected as one of the cities that has made more progress in city management and drinking water. This assessment came from the 2018 World Cities Summit and the Annual Water Summit held in Singapore,

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Michel Setboun shows Albania during communist regime’s final throes

Michel Setboun shows Albania during communist regime’s final throes

TIRANA, July 12 – The Albanian Centre for Openness and Dialogue inaugurated on July 6 Algerian photographer’s Michel Setboun photo exhibition ‘The end. The start. Albania 1981-1991.” At the COD space, Setboun brings for the first time 99 medium and

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Second edition of ‘Za Fest’ returns to Albania’s Theth village

Second edition of ‘Za Fest’ returns to Albania’s Theth village

TIRANA, July 12 – The first modern-day festival dedicated to re-telling the traditions and stories of the Albanian Alps will return on July 20 under the Accursed Mountains, along the riverside of the Shala River. During its second edition, expected

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‘Kucedra’ photo book captures Vjosa, Europe’s last wild river

‘Kucedra’ photo book captures Vjosa, Europe’s last wild river

TIRANA, July 9 – Dublin-based photographer Nick St.Oegger traveled to Albania’s endangered Vjosa river to document life along its banks, and has now published the series of striking landscape shots of the environment, as well as the portraits of the

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“Albania: the spirit of times” exhibition to tour around Italy

“Albania: the spirit of times” exhibition to tour around Italy

TIRANA, July 4 – “Albania: the spirit of the times,” inaugurated on June 30 at the  Acre Museum of Contemporary Art (MACA), is conceived as a moving museum exhibition, with the starting point being Calabria, the Arbëresh epicenter in Southern

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Seventh edition of Turtle Fest to return this weekend in Dhermi

Seventh edition of Turtle Fest to return this weekend in Dhermi

TIRANA, July 5 – The seventh edition of the only long-standing techno festival in Albania will return this weekend in the southern Dhermi Beach, considered one of the most beautiful in Albania. Sponsored by both governmental institutions and the private

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Photo exhibition on Albanian fauna opens at Divjakë-Karavasta National Park

Photo exhibition on Albanian fauna opens at Divjakë-Karavasta National Park

TIRANA, June 30 – Artists from Kosovo and Albania opened a photo exhibition showcasing the creatures living at the country’s Divjakë-Karavasta National Park, in what organizers said is a first-ever event of its kind promoting the countryside’s fauna. One of

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Artists-gvt reach agreement: new National Theatre building, minus the high-rise towers

Artists-gvt reach agreement: new National Theatre building, minus the high-rise towers

TIRANA, June 27 – Tirana’s Mayor Erion Veliaj told local media on Tuesday an agreement was finally reached between the government and the actors who have been protesting against the National Theatre’s replacement with a modern building, part of a

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, July 19 - A project exploring sandy beaches for sporadic nesting of sea turtles that also involves the use of drones has been launched in Albania after the country's first turtle nest has been officially documented in Divjaka, an Adriatic beach some 90km south of Tirana.

UK-based Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles, MEDASSE, says it is supporting a 2-year research project, the first of its kind in Albania, that will help produce important data and offer useful recommendations on actions and measures to help preserve the country’s beaches for the benefit of both sea turtles and visitors.

“In summer 2018 and 2019, in collaboration with the regional agencies for protected areas, we will study the entire Albanian coast,” says Albanian professor Enerit Sacdanaku who is leading a research team exploring all the sandy beaches of Albania in order to assess which beaches are suitable for sea turtle nesting.

“To collect necessary data, we are using traditional methods but also a research drone with specialised software which will not only create maps of the beaches, but also analyse elevation levels, a key factor in determining the suitability of a beach to support viable nesting,” adds Sacdanaku, who earned his PhD from the University of Tirana researching into sea turtles at Vlora Bay, southern Albania.

While surveying, the research team will be monitoring for signs of sea turtle nesting activity and implementing an information hotline for the public, the authorities responsible for the conservation and management of beaches as well as experts in the field to report if any suspected nesting activity is seen.

Three of the seven species of sea turtles that are found in the Mediterranean are included in the IUCN Red list of threatened species.

Previous research has shown that both the endangered loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green turtle (Chelonia mydas) migrate through Albanian waters, and that Drini Bay, north of Albania, is an important feeding, overwintering and developmental habitat for the species in the Mediterranean.

Back in 2012 Albania adopted an action plan for the conservation of sea turtles and their habitats. Sea turtles often end up in Albanian fisherman nets and are sometimes even found dead ashore.

Each summer sea turtles lay their eggs on sandy beaches in the east and south regions of the Mediterranean basin, mainly Greece, Turkey, Cyprus. In the past years, a small number of sea turtle nests have been reported in Italy, Spain and other locations where nesting has not usually occurred in the past.

“This so-called “sporadic” nesting is of high scientific and conservation interest as it may indicate a possible shift in the nesting range of sea turtles towards the west and northern areas of the Mediterranean. Sea turtles are a highly migratory species and they may be responding to climatic changes by using new habitats to nest, feed and overwinter,” says UK-based Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles.

Sea turtles are cold-blooded, air breathing, egg laying reptiles that spend their mysterious lives at sea but return each summer to the same area they were born to deposit their eggs in the sand. They take 20-30 years to mature and may live up to 100 years.

Despite having travelled the world's seas since the age of the Dinosaurs, their survival is threatened due to coastal development, pollution, collision with vessels, fisheries and climate change.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, July 19 - The fifth edition of the International Festival of Baroque Music ‘Vox Baroque’ returned to Albania during the first and second weeks of June, bringing Europe’s best instrumentalists and sopranos in the capital thanks to the devotion of festival founder Jusuf Beshiri. 

For the organizers, Vox Baroque “represents a one-of-its-kind activity in Albania.” 

Aiming to blend together the spread of antique repertoire which is performed in compliance with interpretation guidance treaties with alternative ways of promoting these artifacts now belonging to the cultural heritage of countries, the festival has brought to the Albanian public artists like Monteverdi, Bach, Rebel, Telemann, Marais, Boismortier, Vivaldi, etc..

At its fifth edition, the festival has now established a tradition of presenting up and coming artists along with traditional ones and bringing Italian, French and German baroque sounds to the audience.

As this year marked the celebration of Albania’s National Hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg, the festival’s organizers brought two aries appropriated to celebrating his figure - one composed by Italian Antonio Vivaldi and the other by French Jean-Fery Rebel. 

The music events spread throughout Albania last week, from Tirana, to Korca, Vlora and Berat.

It has been deemed indeed difficult to organize a festival of this kind in Albania, if only due to the typology of the music, which was born at the end of the 16th century in Europe and corresponded with the birth of important European philosophies, such as the Enlightenment. 

The blend of these art fields brought about a music style that is unique aesthetically, but also deep and spiritual.

For the last five years, Vox Baroque has tried to interpret these music values for the Albanian public in the form of a musical journey in some of the most important Albanian cities, also significant for their cultural values and musical inheritance.  

After five years, besides the established musical professionalism, the festival has also become an important oasis in the promotion of Albania itself in Western countries, by stepping over borders, dissolving thoughts and perceptions of making art in Albania, but also by becoming the only international festival to rebuild baroque music across Europe. 

In this context, the 2018 edition of Vox Baroque involved all audience with its majestic character, conveying a sense of monumentality to the public, with contrasting sounds and rhythms that brought about strong emotions of an era. 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, July 12 - Tirana was selected as one of the cities that has made more progress in city management and drinking water.

This assessment came from the 2018 World Cities Summit and the Annual Water Summit held in Singapore, where the head of the Municipality of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, presented the achievements and changes that the Albanian capital has undergone.

"I am very happy that Tirana is highly valued at the Annual Summit of Cities here in Singapore and at the same time at the Annual Water Summit. So, it is for both processes, city management and water management, that Tirana is being assessed as one of the cities that has made more progress,” Veliaj said.

During his speech at the Summit, Veliaj emphasized that the Water Supply and Sewerage Enterprise, which was bankrupt only three years ago, is now ready to start working on doubling the Bovilla Lake capacity and setting up a new transmission line for drinkable water throughout the Unaza e Re area.

“I am also pleased that Tirana today leads in Albania: 98.5 percent of water bills are paid. So, when people see that services are delivered, they are ready to pay the modest fees they owe to the state,” Veliaj said, while expressing his conviction that the best praise for Tirana is its labeling as an innovative city, the way the communication between state and citizens has transformed, starting from kindergartens, schools, sports grounds, playgrounds, bicycle paths, planting trees, etc. 

However, Veliaj also expressed his regret for the statements of various past politicians saying, even today, they will ruin the public work that has been done in Tirana during the last three years, such as the Skanderbeg Square, or that they will hinder the development of other projects, such as the new National Theatre building.

“I feel sorry when I see past leaders of Tirana swearing they will ruin public works that have taken place in Tirana, or that they will not allow future projects, such as the new National Theatre. Today, Tirana is enjoying this reputation due to the courage that was displayed from 2000 to 2011 and during the last three years. So, when Tirana had governments that supported it, that have made bold decisions, it received a reputation as a country that is being transformed galopantly, beyond the capital,” Veliaj said.

Finally, the mayor ensured citizens of the municipality’s commitment to continue transforming Tirana, one neighborhood at a time. He said the world will not stop even during his last year of mandate, while, during the new mandate, attention will be paid in equally developing all rural areas. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, July 12 - The Albanian Centre for Openness and Dialogue inaugurated on July 6 Algerian photographer’s Michel Setboun photo exhibition ‘The end. The start. Albania 1981-1991.” 

At the COD space, Setboun brings for the first time 99 medium and large dimension images as emblems which hold, in their essence, memory and documentation, the evolution of a dramatic decade, filled with events of an extraordinary importance for Albanians’ history.

The substance of this exhibitions retrospectively pauses to inspect strong contrasts, vivid tabloids focusing on post-80s Albania with demagoguery, banners, communist parades, bunkers in every inch of the surface, cult objects transformed in theatre halls, coffeeshops, abandoned culture hubs, economic hardship, political and social oppression during the autocracy period, the figure of the Albanian woman, children and school students, among others.

For Setboun, the country’s beginning of the 1990’s was equally shocking - as the communist regime was coming undone - in his documentation of the Albanian exodus, the overcrowded migrant ships at the Durres port, the reception of Mother Teresa in her home country, the revitalization of religion, reopening of religious cults, discovery and first face-off with capitalism, the shocking situation in centers for children with disabilities, weddings and funerals, and many other aspects of Albanian life.

“I’ve seen many things, from the beginning to the end of two eras. It was very important for this exhibition to take place here, because I wanted to create an album for the family and for the passing of generations that are no longer here. I did not want to show something depressing, but something that shows hope and life. It is important for the new generation to understand where we come from. We forget too easily,” Setboun told local media. 

[caption id="attachment_137903" align="alignright" width="300"]Foto3-500x400 Michel Setboun[/caption]

Meanwhile, Setboun is considered to be one of Albania’s most important international photo-reporters, and one of the most persistent recorders of Albania’s history since 1981 and onwards, as he remains almost the only photographer who has captured with his camera, unlike anyone else and continuously during the last four decades, the political, cultural and social development of the country through and through.  

“Before coming to Albania, I’d heard of Ismail Kadare books, which made Albania look like a fairy-tale place. I was naturally interested in it. I came to Albania for the first time in 1981 and, if you don’t share my age, you cannot imagine how Albania looked then. I was a war photographer, while Albania was a country at peace. While staying at Hotel Tirana, because of the intense quiet, one could even hear chickens’ sounds...there was no cars, nothing. A completely different planet,” Setboun said. 

His archive on Albania has thousands of pictures, each irreplaceable in its political and cultural significance. 

Albanian public figures, such as art historian Zef Peci also spoke to local media about the importance these pictures hold in documenting the country’s history. 

“I think it’s the exhibition of an important author, who brings photographers dipped in reality. Today, seeing these pictures, which were done in film 30 years ago and are not digital,  we see an Albania that no longer exists, some classes and people that no longer remain the same, or have been camouflaged. In this direction, it receives an extraordinary importance, because it speaks of a specific socio-historical context that no longer exists,” Peci told local media.

The exhibition will remain open to the public until September 2nd, while the entry will be free of charge. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, July 12 - The first modern-day festival dedicated to re-telling the traditions and stories of the Albanian Alps will return on July 20 under the Accursed Mountains, along the riverside of the Shala River. 

During its second edition, expected to last for three days and two nights in the course of a weekend, Za Fest organizers have promised to bring the best Albanian music in Theth Village, while simultaneously expanding its cultural horizon even more. 

Some of the artists that have already confirmed their participation to the event include Hasa-Mazzotta, Andrra, Oborri and Linda Rukaj, who will perform live from the village’s traditional church.

“An infinite repertoire of rhythms, notes and vocals that can break any kind of cultural barrier. This will be the right background to enjoy the transfixing Theth panorama,” organizers have written in the event’s official press release. 

Similarly to the last edition, this year too Za Fest will resurface part of the Albanian Alps’ oral tradition, “a jewel inherited from our ancestors.” 

Director and Actor Ema Andrea will also be present to tell and perform some of the area’s most epic legends and stories.

For 2018, organizers have promised an all-inclusive event which will combine the best live music with figurative arts, traditional tastes and sports activities in Theth’s beautiful nature.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, July 9 - Dublin-based photographer Nick St.Oegger traveled to Albania’s endangered Vjosa river to document life along its banks, and has now published the series of striking landscape shots of the environment, as well as the portraits of the people and homes of the riverside communities, in a debut photo book titled ‘Kucedra: Portraits of Life on Europe’s Last Wild River.’ 

The photo book came to life in collaboration with Patagonia and NGOs RiverWatch and Euronatur, as part of the Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign and was launched in Dublin at the Patagonia store, on June 15. 

Vjosa has been named Europe’s last wild river as it has so far never been dammed or altered in any way and runs along its natural course.

[caption id="attachment_137895" align="alignright" width="300"]39_0 Nick St.Oegger[/caption]

However, the pristine river is under threat from hydropower development, which would alter the flow of the river, flood villages and irreparably alter and damage the region’s biodiversity.

In addition, Vjosa holds economic and cultural significance for the agricultural-based communities that live along its banks, thus risking the lives of those who would be displaced and lose their source of income if the dams and reservoirs become a reality.

The fall of communism and chaos that ensued in terms of property law and documentation has led to many of these villagers and farmers holding no deeds to their lands, and so compensation for what they might potentially lose would be difficult to ensure.

As pointed out by Oegger himself during the press release of his book launch, “the fact that the majority of these people don’t have an additional source of income or skills upon which to rely their livelihood, makes matters more difficult.”

The dams to be built at the Vjosa River  are part of a hydropower boom that is taking place everywhere in the Balkans. They are funded by international investment banks and could result in the construction of up to 3,000 dams along rivers throughout the Balkans.

In addition to St.Oegger’s pictures, the book also features an essay by Nataša Gregorič Bon, a social anthropologist at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, on Vjosa River’s importance to Albania’s economy and culture.

The government’s plans to allow the construction of hydropower plants along Europe’s last wild river has also sparked protests in the country by activists, nature-protection organizations and scholars alike over the past months, while also giving life to the ‘Don’t Touch Vjosa’ campaign, under which a number of awareness campaigns have been organized in the capital. 

 

About Nick St.Oegger 

Nick St.Oegger, born in 1988, is a documentary photographer from California, based in Dublin, Ireland, whose work explores the relationship between people and the environments they inhabit, both urban and rural. He has spent several years working in the western Balkans, with a specific focus on Albania. His clients include: Patagonia, Vice, Huck, Reuters, Le Monde, De Standaard, Nieuwe Revu and The Calvert Journal.

 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-07-06 11:24:55
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, July 4 - “Albania: the spirit of the times,” inaugurated on June 30 at the  Acre Museum of Contemporary Art (MACA), is conceived as a moving museum exhibition, with the starting point being Calabria, the Arbëresh epicenter in Southern Italy.

The exhibition, curated by Artan Shabani, former head of the National Gallery of Arts, will showcase various artworks by Albanian artists working and living in Italy.

Calabria is the city where, 550 years ago, the Arbëresh - Albanians who moved to Italy after the death of National hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg and establishment of Ottoman rule during the Middle Ages - settled to spread to Sicily, Basilica and other southern Italian provinces. 

In these areas, Albanian language remains alive to this day, and the customs, rites, symbols and traditions of Albanian ancestors continue to be preserved and passed down from one generation to the other.

“It is a long-term project I thought of starting from Calabria, under the atmosphere of the year dedicated to national hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg and in respect of the memory of the Arberesh, of Albanian culture and history, both old and new,” Shabani told local media.

Former Italian Ambassador to Albania Paolo Foresti supported the exhibition coming to life, and also provided a number of paintings from his own personal collection.

The exhibition focuses on the period of realistic socialism during the second half of the 1900s, as part  of the political platform of the communist regime ideology and then the nineties, with the end of planned art and the emergence of a new period in the Albanian art scene, with young artists who followed novel artistic expressions and methods, to contemporary art, whose language speaks of contemporary issues, similar to those of European artists, like social tensions, identity search, dialogue beyond bounded territories. 

Some of featuring artists include Adrian Devolli, Lefter Shtembari, Skënder Kamberi, Nikolin Ivanaj, Foto Stamo, Guri Madhi, Ibrahim Kodra, Petro Kokushta, Anastas Kostandini Taso, Qamil Prizreni, Vladimir Kekezi, Emin Shaqja, Zini Veshi, Alkan Nallbani, Vangjush Vellahu, Agron Hoti, Arjan Shehaj, Vangjel Gjikondi, Eltjon Valle, etc.

The exhibition will remain open until the end of October, while by November it is expected to move to a museum in Veneto and other Italian provinces. 





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                    [post_date] => 2018-07-06 11:22:10
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, July 5 - The seventh edition of the only long-standing techno festival in Albania will return this weekend in the southern Dhermi Beach, considered one of the most beautiful in Albania.

Sponsored by both governmental institutions and the private sector, Turtle Fest 2017 hosted approximately 4,000 people, while the numbers are expected to be even higher this year, with international DJ performances and tourists attending the southern pearl.

This year, acts will include globally known artists such as Dub FX, DJ Aphrodite, SABB, Qendresa and Nickodemus among others, coming from Australia, the UK and the US respectively.

Lasting for three days over the weekend, the festival offers both camping grounds, as well as apartments in the seaside and traditional rooms in houses up the village. 

Local artists will also be performing, as the festival aims to promote local art and music; festival organizers said this part of the festival is important, as Tirana’s underground music scene over the 2000’s was an inspiration for Turtle Fest to be born. 

“When Turtle Fest started, and I was invited to participate in it, it was a sleepy period for the musical stage. It was a modest venture, a camp fest lit by the desire of a new generation to reconnect with this tradition and guided by the same desires and principles,” Rubin Beqo, one of the festiva’s organizers writes.

 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-07-03 16:38:27
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-03 14:38:27
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 30 - Artists from Kosovo and Albania opened a photo exhibition showcasing the creatures living at the country’s Divjakë-Karavasta National Park, in what organizers said is a first-ever event of its kind promoting the countryside’s fauna.

One of the photographers’ main aim with the exhibition is to attract attention to the variety of birds and animals that risk extinction and that have been photographed for the first time in Albania or Kosovo.

The Divjakë-Karavasta National Park is considered one of the most valuable natural treasures in the country.

“Some of the photographs shown here are exhibited for the first time to the public, there are species discovered for the first time in both Kosovo and Albania and it was organized by Wildlife Photographers Albania, by all the Albanians living in the country who took pictures, and it’s the first of its kind,” Arian Mavriqi, photographer from Kosovo, said. 

Mavriqi added that the photographers’ aim is to raise awareness through the exhibition, and hopefully put an end to illegal hunting in the protected area, and the following destruction of the ecosystems.

“Through the photographs and the presentation of the fauna we enable people to get to know fauna species better and to preserve them, because the fauna is really important to our country - without it, natural life in the planet ceases to exist,” Mavriqi said.

He added that fauna in general is under risk from people, but that Wildlife Photographers hope that exhibitions like this can raise awareness, especially concerning illegal hunting and the destruction of ecosystems.

Locals also contributed in bringing the exhibition together, such as Altin Hila and his wife, who both grew up amid Divjaka’s natural beauty.

“I’ve dealt with nature my entire life, as my parents educated me to love nature and, as a result, I always wanted to showcase this nature and show it to the world and people,” Hila told the Voice of America.

The exhibition includes 45 photographs from 11 different photographers. 

Famous Albanian biologist Taulant Bino, who also attended the exhibition, valued his colleagues’ work not only for their aesthetic composition, but also because of their aim of raising awareness.

“Above all, it gives a very important message for the protection of Albania’s nature by showing its diversity and beauty; so, it raises the values of Albanian nature and by doing so, gives the message that this nature should be protected,” Bino said.

The exhibition has already been welcomed with great enthusiasm and curiosity, given the big number of visitors the valley and the exhibition premises have seen since its opening. 

 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-06-29 14:51:38
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 27 - Tirana’s Mayor Erion Veliaj told local media on Tuesday an agreement was finally reached between the government and the actors who have been protesting against the National Theatre’s replacement with a modern building, part of a high-rise commercial complex. 

After another meeting with the actors on the long-contested issue, Veliaj announced the new agreement had managed to convince even the most skeptic of actors protesting that a new National Theatre building that matches European standards is necessary to the capital.

According to Veliaj, the new building with not come as part of a high-rise complex, will be constructed on its own territory but be three times bigger than the existing one and will not come from taxpayers’ pockets. 

“After some months we reached a successful negotiations, and we can enjoy the first show in the new theatre building within one or two years. We agreed that the draft-law that will be sent to parliament will include actors as negotiators, will sanction the theatre land only for theatre use, which will come without a tower and cost nothing to taxpayers. The draft law we have today is the product of these negotiations,” Veliaj said.

He added this was the best agreement that could be reached, and that soon architects and urban planners would be added to refine the project.

Famous director Altin Basha, who was initially in favor of reconstructing the existing building, said the hearing, where architects and experts were present, convinced him the National Theatre needs a new one.

“I was a member of both roundtables, because I wanted to exhaust all possibilities beyond any doubt of reconstructing the National Theatre building. I hoped that keeping the possibility of reconstruction in mind would please everyone, but if you say the building’s structure, its foundations, are irreparable then I need to stop, as I cannot oppose something i'm not an expert in,” Basha said. 

Veliaj ensured that the new draft-law includes guarantees the new National Theatre building will be on its own land and will not be accompanied by additional constructions in the public property area, in the middle of Tirana. 

Meanwhile, the head of the Commission for Culture Albana Vokshi spoke about the artists’ ongoing protests against the replacement of the National Theatre Building in a Brussels’ European Parliament meeting about Europe’s cultural heritage. 

We are currently in the third week of daily protests by artists, because the government has decided to demolish it. We want to defend this building because the government decided to give the land to the private sector in order to build towers,” Vokshi said, in this context saying Albania’s cultural heritage is at risk and appealing for its protection.  

 
                    [post_title] => Artists-gvt reach agreement: new National Theatre building, minus the high-rise towers 
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            [post_date] => 2018-07-19 15:28:26
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            [post_content] => TIRANA, July 19 - A project exploring sandy beaches for sporadic nesting of sea turtles that also involves the use of drones has been launched in Albania after the country's first turtle nest has been officially documented in Divjaka, an Adriatic beach some 90km south of Tirana.

UK-based Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles, MEDASSE, says it is supporting a 2-year research project, the first of its kind in Albania, that will help produce important data and offer useful recommendations on actions and measures to help preserve the country’s beaches for the benefit of both sea turtles and visitors.

“In summer 2018 and 2019, in collaboration with the regional agencies for protected areas, we will study the entire Albanian coast,” says Albanian professor Enerit Sacdanaku who is leading a research team exploring all the sandy beaches of Albania in order to assess which beaches are suitable for sea turtle nesting.

“To collect necessary data, we are using traditional methods but also a research drone with specialised software which will not only create maps of the beaches, but also analyse elevation levels, a key factor in determining the suitability of a beach to support viable nesting,” adds Sacdanaku, who earned his PhD from the University of Tirana researching into sea turtles at Vlora Bay, southern Albania.

While surveying, the research team will be monitoring for signs of sea turtle nesting activity and implementing an information hotline for the public, the authorities responsible for the conservation and management of beaches as well as experts in the field to report if any suspected nesting activity is seen.

Three of the seven species of sea turtles that are found in the Mediterranean are included in the IUCN Red list of threatened species.

Previous research has shown that both the endangered loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green turtle (Chelonia mydas) migrate through Albanian waters, and that Drini Bay, north of Albania, is an important feeding, overwintering and developmental habitat for the species in the Mediterranean.

Back in 2012 Albania adopted an action plan for the conservation of sea turtles and their habitats. Sea turtles often end up in Albanian fisherman nets and are sometimes even found dead ashore.

Each summer sea turtles lay their eggs on sandy beaches in the east and south regions of the Mediterranean basin, mainly Greece, Turkey, Cyprus. In the past years, a small number of sea turtle nests have been reported in Italy, Spain and other locations where nesting has not usually occurred in the past.

“This so-called “sporadic” nesting is of high scientific and conservation interest as it may indicate a possible shift in the nesting range of sea turtles towards the west and northern areas of the Mediterranean. Sea turtles are a highly migratory species and they may be responding to climatic changes by using new habitats to nest, feed and overwinter,” says UK-based Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles.

Sea turtles are cold-blooded, air breathing, egg laying reptiles that spend their mysterious lives at sea but return each summer to the same area they were born to deposit their eggs in the sand. They take 20-30 years to mature and may live up to 100 years.

Despite having travelled the world's seas since the age of the Dinosaurs, their survival is threatened due to coastal development, pollution, collision with vessels, fisheries and climate change.

 
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