Pre-communist era paintings discovered

Pre-communist era paintings discovered

TIRANA, Jan. 23- Prior to the communist regime in Albania, the government and intellectuals of the ‘30s were trying to establish an High Academy for Fine Arts with an enhanced enthusiasm. These undertaken steps were published at scientific and literary

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Government raises taxation for books

Government raises taxation for books

TIRANA, Jan. 22- After shocking news from the Albanian State Institute of Statistics, INSTAT, that throughout 2017 one million Albanians haven’t had read at least one book, various theories were claimed by critics as to why this happened. During the

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UNDP engages youth in Shkoder

UNDP engages youth in Shkoder

UNDP Albania with the support of the British Embassy in Albania organized an activity in Shkoder for youth engagement, titled “Made in Shkodra.’’ The activity was inspired by the rising trend of brain-drain that Albania is suffering. Thus this activity

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Robert Pichler, the time-traveler

Robert Pichler, the time-traveler

TIRANA, Jan. 24- After 18 months of traveling throughout Albania, from northern Albania to Kadare’s Museal House in Gjirokaster, the “Back in time. Albania in the ‘90s” exhibition finally arrives to its final destination in Tirana. The exhibition is a

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A commemoration to Ismail Qemali

A commemoration to Ismail Qemali

By Sonja Methoxha   “However, God desired, that with the work, the unmatched bravery and courage of the Albanians, from today on the misfortunes and sufferings of our Motherland will cease, here and thus, we are Free, Independent and by

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Renowned engineer, National Awakening researcher passes away

Renowned engineer, National Awakening researcher passes away

TIRANA, Jan. 24 – One of Albania’s most renowned chemical engineers, professor Genc Luarasi, has unexpectedly passed away at the age of 74. Genc Luarasi, a successor to the renowned Luarasi family with a huge contribution to the National Awakening

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Albanian cultural heritage lacks preservation in Montenegro

Albanian cultural heritage lacks preservation in Montenegro

TIRANA, Jan. 16- The cultural heritage of Albanian people in Montenegro is getting harder to preserve by the day, and is facing a lack of support from either local or regional institutions. This comes at the absence of clear cultural

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Gjirokaster’s UNESCO-protected houses are endangering citizens

Gjirokaster’s UNESCO-protected houses are endangering citizens

TIRANA, Jan. 16- Gjirokaster is one of the oldest cities in Albania. From historical documents dating from 14th century we learn that the city was part of the Byzantine Empire, and was name Argyrokastro. The name in Greek means Silver

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Book “Internationals’’ is published in Italy

Book “Internationals’’ is published in Italy

TIRANA, Jan. 15 – On 2006, professor and former Albanian ambassador in France Ylljet Alicka, published a satirical novel titled Nje Rrefenje me Nderkombetare (A story with internationals). The book has been published in French, and ten years later, it

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A Peace March to call out politics

A Peace March to call out politics

TIRANA, Jan. 14- The Center for Interfaith Cooperation in Elbasan organized on Jan. 12 the annual Peace March to outcall politics. This year’s motto was “Politics is a Mission, use it at the benefit of people!”. The Peace and Intercommunity

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 23- Prior to the communist regime in Albania, the government and intellectuals of the ‘30s were trying to establish an High Academy for Fine Arts with an enhanced enthusiasm. These undertaken steps were published at scientific and literary newspaper Minerva on July and Aug. of 1933. More specifically the ideas would be inspired by the rare talents of the time, both nationally and internationally appraised. One of these were also Odhise Paskali, one of the best sculptors of the time. 

Another impressive painter who started out making a name for himself during the ‘30s, but whose career also developed during communism, was Sadik Kaceli. Kaceli is introduced at the cover of Minerva with a representative painting of an Albanian highlander dressed in a national costume, with a peaceful and lovely pose while a rifle rests on his shoulder. The painting is distinguished by a compositional perfection and a unique colors development, which with its light colors create a harmony and elegance in this young man’s portrait.

1548168850_13ok

 

This picture was painted by Kaceli while he was studying under Italian painter Mario Ridola at the Tirana Drawing School. All the works of the students at this school published at Minerva speak of talents that powerfully display themselves at this time, and who left marks as establishers of an Albanian bright art.

The Minerva newspaper directed by Nebil Cika and with his wife Ikbale Cika as administrator, also uncovers works from other Albanian authors. They appear quite talented, however they are forgotten today. This pictorial art with volatile beginnings were the day’s theme. In Minerva’s pages apart from the development of these talents and their fame, it was also stressed on the necessity of a Fine Arts Academy. 

It was due to these students and professors of the Tirana Drawing School that continued the artistic dream of the ‘30s generation, by establishing the Fine Arts Academy and giving it a celebrated name despite of the ideologic censorships. 

“Notice these works and you will clearly see that this school should be rightfully called the Fine Arts Academy. [...] We have today four Albanian boys that display rigorous skills and a distinguishable talent in their works.,’’ writes in its ninth number the newspaper Minerva. 

The newspaper writes about how the school was positively contributing to the growth of the Albanian artist and art. It mentions the names of Kaceli and Strazirniri distinguishable in visual arts such as painting and drawing, and Lazari and Makoci in sculpture. It then goes to make an analysis on the work done with the portraits, stressing on the facial expressions and animation of the characters.

1548168850_14

 

“The old man with beads on his hands, has the expression of the sad man, who however, seems to find consolation by demeaning to fatality. The boy has a face which reminds you of the boys grown without having felt the sweet love of him, e from this fact don’t have a laughing face,’’ writes the author in the same article about the sculptures. 

The author stresses on the fact that by this time (when the article was written in ‘33), it was the second year from when the Drawing School was opened, so the progress was more than celebratory. In the article was also mentioned that the following year the students would start learning anatomy, and the two most talented artists would be sent abroad to perfect their style.

Except of appraising the Albanian students and their work, the article appraises the noble mission the teacher and school leader Ridola was doing, but always linking it to the distinguished talent of the young Albanian students. Ridola appears as having a major contribution both with raising the School as a proper institution in Albania, and mostly in shaping the tastes of Albanian regarding fine arts and its collection. 

The author mentions his visits in 98 house saloons, on which he almost never saw paintings or sculptures, and those he saw weren’t from Albanian artists. There used to be the Friends of Art Club which sought to establish an artistic taste among the Albanian public, but which somehow failed. That is why a pressure and higher expectation was imposed on Ridola and his school, which managed to eventually establish the Fine Arts Academy, and produce renowned artists who left a mark in future artworks that we have today. 

1548168850_12
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 22- After shocking news from the Albanian State Institute of Statistics, INSTAT, that throughout 2017 one million Albanians haven’t had read at least one book, various theories were claimed by critics as to why this happened. During the 21st edition of the book fair held on Nov. 14-18, 2018, there was even an activity organized regarding the challenges of reading. 

One of the reasons that Albanians aren’t reading anymore is due to the high prices of the books, which comes from the taxes imposed on books and publishing houses. This was also one of the complaint points that publishers stressed on. There was even a request by the Publishers’ Association for the government to lower the taxes, which would help the book and positively impact readership. 

Then leader of Economic Commision, Erion Brace (now in the position of deputy prime minister), and SP deputy Milva Ekonomi agreed to helping the publishing house businesses. The Association sent a letter where they asked of foreseeing the possibility of changing the tax system for books. 

The initial request from the publishers was a tax reduction of six percent for the supplying of books to bookstores. The original taxation amount that the publishing houses had to pay to the government was 20 percent for each book printed and supplied. However, something was lost in translation, as the government didn’t reduce the requested six percent taxation.

Instead, the 20 percent tax that the publishing houses had to pay the government on each bookstore supply remained, and it imposed a new law which binds the bookstores to pay 6 percent on each sale. However, they won’t have to pay the government any taxes for the books they buy to sell.

The Ministry of Finances has not issued the guidelines for book taxation yet, so the publishers are not sure about the real numbers they will have to owe the government. The most surprising thing is that this whole situation was intricated from the government’s desire to help the book and its distribution. Erion Brace and Milva Ekonomi sent a proposed bill to the parliament for review, but it seems that the initial government bill was the one that passed instead. 

The crushing weight of the books cost is due to other services not imposed on the taxing, like the commision of the librarian which amounts from 25 to 30 percent. There is also a cost for translation or copyright, editing, which all amount to 30 up to 40 percent of a book’s cost, and finally there is the printing cost which amounts to 20 up to 30 percent. Thus, even though the publishers will receive a lower taxation on book production, they will still have to pay a VAT on sale. 

In the entire cost of the book, if the printing with VAT is as 20 percent of the sale price, the reduced VAT equals four percent of the final sale price and the placing of the six percent sale VAT, implies a net increase of the fiscal burden by two percent on the book sales. In case that the cost of book supplies have a VAT amounting to 30 percent of the sale price, then the VAT imposed on the book will equal the reducing VAT. Only in rare case when the printing and other supplying costs with VAT are higher than 30 percent, will the publishers receive a small reduction on the fiscal burden. 

The increase or reduction of the fiscal burden depending on the book is one of the many issues that the new system is expected to create. The administrative burden for the correct bookkeeping to sales and supplies, and of liability accounts of VAT in sales and supplies, are a new nuisance that librarians and publishers have to face in the generally poor market they operate at. 

Issues from the new law will also face readers that buy and order books online. If until now Albanian buyers hadn’t paid any VAT for the imported books, since now they will have to pay a six percent tax for each book package costing over 22 euros. So in this case there are both fiscal and administrative burdens added. The untaxed ordered books can be taken from the post office in the reader’s area, however the taxes ones can only be received at the post office of the Kinostudio area in Tirana. 

 
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                    [post_content] => UNDP Albania with the support of the British Embassy in Albania organized an activity in Shkoder for youth engagement, titled “Made in Shkodra.’’ The activity was inspired by the rising trend of brain-drain that Albania is suffering. Thus this activity and other undertaken throughout the country, seek to create friendly cities and communities through the unfolding of youth’s ideas and initiatives.

More than 100 young people from the region of Shkodra participated in this event. The participants said that if the youth engaged more in the activities of the city, perhaps they wouldn’t leave their homes. A lack of engagement arises from a lack of knowledge about various activities and projects, and this comes either because youth prefers in surfing the web and having a coffee with friends, or because no one is introducing them to potential life-changing options.

A stressing point was to how and where would the change come from, and most agree that a change should arise from the individual. If they want to be more activity in the social life of the community, they should take the necessary steps to get there. This would lead to a progressive positive change in the country. When everyone leaves, who is going to fix this country? This was a question raised as well.

“A better future would come from a having a secure future,’’ said Valmira, a participating student. However this better and happier future would come only if these individuals were more active in making decisions for themselves that would also affect and positively change their communities. 

Other students decided to undertake an individual, volunteer project on informing their peers on activities happening in their city. They said that there are people who love their home-city and country, however, they are both unaware about what is happening in their cities, and in a comfort zone. This activity according to another student, Deborah, won’t only seek to inform their peers on various in-town activities, but also develop and unfold projects that would benefit the future of Shkoder and Albania.

“The title [Made in Shkodra], so we can give youth the opportunity to see the possibility in creating a youth-friendly Shkoder. But what does this mean, and what are the needs that young people have? How could the youth engage so they can come up with some solutions that really make Shkoder to be friendly to young people, either by cultural activities, their voices being heard in decision-making; the creation of a healthy youth, of opportunities for cultural exchanges and ideas through the individual implementation of technology, and not waiting upon someone else to do it for them,’’ said Julia Goga, the head of the Albanian innovation expedite group. 

She said that the aim of this project was to inspire youth to come up with concrete initiatives and solutions to issues they face everyday in their cities. These issues, such as unemployment, inability to be included in the social and economic decision-making of the local administration, have been some of the reasons that have pushed youth to leave the country. 

This project of UNDP with collaboration of the British Embassy is part of the larger project launched by UNDP Albania, “Support to employment and social services for vulnerable youth and women in Northern Albania.” The project aims to create tangible opportunities for the youth living in the three municipalities by introducing tailor-made entrepreneurship training programs, offering opportunities for self-employment and start-ups and offering free legal aid to the most vulnerable. The project is now moving to Kukes, following the same process, “Made in Kukes.”

50299949_2164815573577207_7057850887716208640_n

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 24- After 18 months of traveling throughout Albania, from northern Albania to Kadare’s Museal House in Gjirokaster, the “Back in time. Albania in the ‘90s” exhibition finally arrives to its final destination in Tirana. 

The exhibition is a series of pictures from Austrian photographer and anthropologist Robert Pichler taken about 30 years when Albania just made it out of the five-decade long communist regime. Curated by Edi Pula with the support of the Austrian Embassy, the exhibition was hosted by the National History Museum as part of its program of a series of exhibitions which allows Albanians to travel back in time and experience the historical roots of our presence. 

“It is a summary of the whole Albanian context from the ‘90s, in each aspect of life. How did they live, started from the streets, the transportation means, how did they eat, where did they go and what did they do, it is the Albania of those years,’’ said curator Pula.

The pictures are made in the north, an area quite well-known to photographer Pichler; there are pictures made in the south, pictures of people and their portraits, mortal rituals, Albanian weddings, blood reconciliations, etc.. It seeks to awaken the collective memory of the people, not more for nostalgia rather than as a message to reawaken a past that has slipped through our consciousness and perhaps, deal with it. 

The exhibition started 18 months ago in the north of Albania. It was installed in a public bus operating in Tirana in the areas Kombinat-Kinostudio (the orange buses). The traveling bus was wearing the pictures of Pichler, thus making the pictures visible even to bypassers or drivers. More interurban buses were included in this massive exhibition, and some stations were even used as exhibition spots. 

“Considering the returning back in time that these photos invoke, and also the invitation to temporarily position ourselves between the present and past, the idea of creating a moving exhibition was born, in parallel with the installed exhibition within the galleries or museums of hosting cities,’’ was said in describing the exhibition. 

Pichler arrived in Albania in 1989 while a student. The country appeared strange and totally divergent to his homeland, Austria. However, there was something simultaneously tragic and beautiful about this chaotic semblance of a state that pushed Pichler to return over time and develop his artistic expressionist style. 

“At that time, it was already obvious that the communist project had failed- the economy was rotting and society was in constant surveillance. The people we met were frightened, but also curious to meet with us. The first trip did leave a mark on me, my self-esteem was challenged, but I was tempted to return to that country as soon as possible,” said Pichler.

He returned three years later on a six-month scholarship for a research for the social changed in northern Albania. He recalls that the situation in Albania around this time had dramatically changed and that the country was undergoing a noisy transformation. This distracted him from his research, and caused him to be absorbed by the political riots. 

It was a totally new beginning which destination remained uncertain. For many others, added Pichler, it was all a war for surviving, and as many were concerned in attaining their basic needs, it existed an incredible desire to get their long-refused right, Freedom. Freedom of thought and speech, freedom of movement, expression, modern technology. 

“The country was flooded in imported goods, the pressure of movement appeared violently and cars, trucks, bikers, carriages, bypassers were displaced in the caravan streets, and bazaars started being built,” recalls Pichler. 

The chaotic situation with restricted supplies on food, water and electricity reminded Pichler of stories being told by his grandparents. On the same he noticed this effort to recover something new, previously missed. People told him that Albania had all the means to be the Switzerland of Balkans, even though the past luck didn't allow it. Now it was its time. Pichler started dipping in historical research, exploring the past and how it had shaped the future.

“The emotional meetings, together with the respect I found in the people, grew my interest for this country and its history, and this made to return here over time,” added Pichler. 

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                    [post_content] => By Sonja Methoxha

 

“However, God desired, that with the work, the unmatched bravery and courage of the Albanians, from today on the misfortunes and sufferings of our Motherland will cease, here and thus, we are Free, Independent and by Ourselves, that is why you should laugh and cheer!”

Ismail Qemali told these words to anticipating Albanians the night of Nov. 28, 1912, right after he and 42 delegates signed the Declaration of Independence. This line is part of his speech pitched to the Albanian public in Vlore, as he was preparing to raise the red flag with the black double-headed eagle at the balcony of his cousin’s Xhemil Bej Vlora’s house. In that house were held the first referendum prior signing the declaration with the delegators, and other meetings decisive of Albania’s future. The house was destroyed during WWI, and it is turned to the Flag’s Square.

Albania however, was recognized as an autonomous state by the Great Powers later in 1913 at the London Conference. First, the great powers decided to recognize Albania as an autonomous state under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire on May 1913, but with the persistence of the delegates and the break out of the Balkan Wars in July 1913, the Great Powers decided to recognize the total independence and autonomy of the Republic of Albania. 

Later after the declaration of independence on Dec. 4, 1912 a provisional government and senate were established to which Qemali served as prime minister until Jan. 1914. He became the first known prime minister after the declaration of independence, however. He also served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, holding the position until the Great Powers recognized the full independence of Albania, leaving office in June 1913. Thus, it can be said that apart of all the events around the Balkans, he also played a key role in lobbying for Albania’s sovereignty at the London Conference. 

Ismail Qemali isn’t only the establisher of the Albanian Nation for simply authoring and being the first to sign the declaration of indepence. Qemali also was on of the people who gave a hand in stirring revolts against the Ottoman Empire in Albanian territories. According to publicist, intellectual and delegate Mid’hat Frasheri, Qemali has been traveling around Europe seeking support from the great powers in declaring the autonomy of Albania. He received support from Austro-Hungary, Romania and Italy. However, when Qemali arrived in Durres, he saw that Albanians were already in unison for overthrowing the Ottoman invaders. 

In an alleged secret meeting held on Nov. 18 between Qemali and Bertchold, it was implied that Austro-Hungary would support Albania’s independence but not its autonomy. Meaning that Albania would still somehow be under a control from the Empire. That is why some voices later said that Albania was a creation of Austria. However, Qemali only got the help he would receive and diplomatically refuse to sacrifice Albania’s autonomy. 

Qemali lived very shortly in Albania. He was an exile from the Ottoman Empire. He was born in 1844 in Vlore, from an old, traditional and rich family in Vlore. In 1847 the Vlora clan made an insurgency against the Tanzimat, which led to their exile. The men were sent in camps in Konje, whereas women and children in Thessaloniki. While there Ismail Qemali went to primary school and learned Turkish. In 1852 he returned to Vlore where he received an education by private tutors and his parents. In 1855 he was registered at Zosimea high school in Ioannina, graduating in 1859.

In 1860 he went to Istanbul staying with family members. A cousin found him a translator’s work position at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs there while he was studying for Law and Justice. This is where Ismail Qemali’s long career at the Ottoman Empire’s administration starts. After he finishes his studies, he gets assigned in 1868 as director of the Judicial Office in Sofia, Bulgaria (being under Ottoman invasion then). In 1870 he served as director of the European Commision of Danube, as an Ottoman delegate.

Later he was assigned as Vali in Varna, for the harbor project. From 1873-6 he served as private secretary to Mid’hat Pasha, who was then assigned as Minister of Justice in Istanbul. In 1876 he was assigned general secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, staying there was a year, which gave him a substantial knowledge as to how the Ottoman Empire works. While there he started showing Albanian nationalistic sentiments, which almost sent him to an internment camp in Anadolou. Turkish administration pressured the Sultan to send him as Vali in Turkey’s Bolou district, in which he served from 1884 until his resignation in 1890.

However, he was later sent as Vali in Beirut where he found his friend Vaso Pasha, who later died. We have to stress that in 1892 Qemali sent an extensive memorandum to Sultan Abdul Hamid on liberal reformations for Rumelia. Qemali had also written a number of liberal articles for Ottoman newspapers. He had also served as counselor to Sultan Hamid and other viziers. 

In 1900 he was assigned as Vali in Tripoli, but considering the various commotions against his name, he escaped in May of the year. For this, the Sultan sentenced him to death on absence from his position. He was taken under the protectorate of the British. For eight year Qemali traveled in Europe, met Faik Konica, directed the publication of Albania magazine in Brussels, represented Albanians in a 1902 Congress in Paris, and in 1908 he returned home.

He kept contacts with all his connoisseurs. In Dec. 1908 he was elected deputy for Berat. Together with other deputies from Albanian territories they formed the National Movement for the decentralization of the Ottoman Empire from the Albanian territories. Historian Paskal Milo writes in article for Panorama newspaper that the Qemali’s contribution took a heavier weight after the fall of the League of Prizren. 

“Albanians started to see clearly and to consider the new situation created in Balkans, as well as the danger threatening their nation,’’ has written Qemali in his diaries. 

What he means is that the Ottoman Empire was obviously weakening, and both the Great Powers would intervene after its fall to absorb its previously invaded territories. There was a revolution from the Young Turks in 1908 which inspired armed revolts in all invaded territories in Balkans. Albanian uprisings started by 1910-1. A general revolt exploded early 1912, and Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro and Romania declared war to the Ottoman Empire, outsing all its soldiers from their territories.

The Ottoman soldiers left were situated in Albanian territories. Ismail Qemali was already the voice the Great Powers have heard for the past two years in asking support for Albania’s autonomy. Serbian soldiers were approaching the Albanian territories, so the Albanians had to work fast and declare autonomy prior to any potential interference from the Serbians and other Balkan countries. Declaring the Independence and the ousting of the Ottomans by the Albanian soldiers during the armed uproar, sent the message that this is an autonomous state, no longer under the Ottoman domination.

Qemali had already declared to the Great Powers that Albania was going to declare itself independent. Before returning to Albania from Trieste, he sent telegrams to 83 delegates, but only 43 managed to arrive on Nov. 28. The rest came later. He also sent telegrams to Tirana and Elbasan to declare the independence and raise the flag on Nov. 26, so the Serbians would receive the message that this is an independent, autonomous republic. 

As mentioned, he became the first prime minister, his government established in its first act Albania’s Armed Forces on Dec. 4, 1912. He protected Albania and its autonomy in the face of the Great Power’s and their belittling to our country. He protected the government and gave his contribution as a European visionary and experienced statesman. He tried to absorb the other Albanian territories of Kosovo, Tetovo, Montenegro and Greece, through diplomacy, even though those projects remained suspended. 

Even after his leaving of the administration, he never ceased to protect Albania’s autonomy, seek support and hold international conferences concerning our identity and Nation. Even though he died under mysterious circumstances in 1919 in Perugia, he was there under an official invitation from the Italian government for cooperation. 

Today Jan. 24, 2019, marks the 100th anniversary of Qemali’s passing. 2019 also marks the 175th anniversary of his birth as well. Even though the circumstances of his death still remain a mystery, through the years more documents upon the weight of his positive contribution are resurfacing. Qemali is truly the father of this nation, and we owe to his and other men’s bravery for declaring the independence of this country. 

Throughout 2019 the National History Museum and other institutions will be organizing activities dedicated to Ismail Qemali’s figure. The first event starts at the National History Museum on Jan. 28 with “Journey- Ismail Qemali through years,” a scientific round table exhibition which will focus on Qemali’s role and activities on the Albanian issue. 

 
                    [post_title] => A commemoration to Ismail Qemali
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                    [post_date] => 2019-01-24 12:34:39
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_140201" align="alignright" width="278"]Prof.-Genc-Luarasi Genc Luarasi[/caption]

TIRANA, Jan. 24 – One of Albania’s most renowned chemical engineers, professor Genc Luarasi, has unexpectedly passed away at the age of 74. Genc Luarasi, a successor to the renowned Luarasi family with a huge contribution to the National Awakening Movement that led to Albania’s independence from Turkey in 1912, was also a passionate researcher of the patriotic activity of the Luarasi family and dedicated much time and effort to the collection and republication of the Luarasi works, especially those of his grandfather, Kristo Luarasi, an early 20th century nationalist figure and publisher.

Under communism, he worked as a chief chemical engineer at the  plant in Laç town, northern Albania, before moving to the Tirana wood processing factory, in duties that affected his lung function due to the constant presence of dust, smoke, as well as calcium and phosphorus vapors, leading to a premature death on Jan. 17, a significant day in Albania's history, commemorating the death of Albania’s 15th century national hero, Skanderbeg.

Genc Luarasi also served as a lecturer at the Agriculture University of Tirana and several private universities. He dedicated much of his time to republishing and researching into the Luarasi family contribution to the national awakening and recently published the Kombiar Calendar, a work originally published by Kristo Luarasi, a late publisher of the Albanian National Renaissance. The original format of the work included 22 books that were printed during the 1897-1928 period.

“Born and raised at a patriotic family and with a rich legacy (his mother was a Polish design artist), Genc Luarasi never wasted time even after retirement. He was an energetic man, always on the move and exploring new things and his premature departure left a lot of other collected stuff unpublished,” his friend Zylyftar Hoxha says in an obituary.

During the past two decades, Genc Luarasi struggled to have back his property, his grandparents’ house and the famous Luarasi printing house set up in Tirana in the 1930s by his grandfather Kristo Luarasi after moving from Sofia where he initially operated it for more than two decades after Albania’s independence, publishing Albanian language newspapers and magazines.

The prolonged trials that failed to produce a final verdict for about two decades were his biggest regret.
                    [post_title] => Renowned engineer, National Awakening researcher passes away
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                    [post_date] => 2019-01-22 13:34:48
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 16- The cultural heritage of Albanian people in Montenegro is getting harder to preserve by the day, and is facing a lack of support from either local or regional institutions. This comes at the absence of clear cultural politics.

Albanian analyst from Montenegro Haxhi Shabani, said that there exists a lack of a planned distinct culture, so there is an absence of cultural politics inside the Albanians of Montenegro. He said that instead of the cultural institutions organizing the cultural life, the attempts for preservation come more from artists, writers and people themselves, organizing events, publishing books and inviting other artists.

“The cultural institutions which should deal with the engagement of the cultural life in the city, are loaded and overloaded with party militants, who are not aware, who don’t know, but also don’t want to engage in the cultural development in our city, and beyond,’’ said Gazmend Citaku, Albanian analyst from Montenegro. 

According to the analysts, the cultural activities under development in Montenegro are a result to the non-governmental sector which is also the main bearer of the Albanian culture in Montenegro. Citaku said that the majority of the Albanian cultural activities in Montenegro are either from individuals or non-governmental institutions. 

“The institutions which are called civil society, non-governmental organizations, in this direction I think they have done a better work by shaping and establishing various activities, like for instance the model of the Art Club by organizing literary events such as the Kalimera Poetike, and by publishing books of Albanian writers,’’ said analyst Shabani.

The analysts said that the cultural institutions of Tirana and Pristina could help prevent this neglecting situation. They would help support the preservation of the Albanian cultural heritage in Montenegro. Shabani said that no help has been received which is paradoxical, regarding the helpful model of Balkan countries towards their people. The help is needed in the material spectrum, with books for example, as from Albania and from Kosovo as well. 

“Why shouldn’t we get a theatrical show from the Shkodra theatre, as Shkodra is only 40 kilometers away from Ulcinj. If a theatre team from Pristina came a put on a show in Ulcinj, why shouldn’t the Shkodra theatre come here for a day?’’, said analyst Citaku.

The cultures of Albanians in Montenegro is part of the pan-national Albanian culture. It displays a unique wealth in these areas, which should be protected and further developed. The Albanians in Montenegro are the largest non-Slavian minority in the country, consisting of 5 percent of the general population. 

 
                    [post_title] => Albanian cultural heritage lacks preservation in Montenegro 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-01-21 11:59:39
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 16- Gjirokaster is one of the oldest cities in Albania. From historical documents dating from 14th century we learn that the city was part of the Byzantine Empire, and was name Argyrokastro. The name in Greek means Silver Castle, and that can be relevant as the city itself lies overlooked by a fortress, one of the most well-preserved castles in Albania. 

The old town of Gjirokaster became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005 as "a rare example of a well-preserved Ottoman town, built by farmers of large estate". More than 500 objects are categorised as a great treasure, not only for UNESCO, but also for Albania, considering the city’s life-long history. However, a number of these houses are in critical conditions.

“During these years, especially after years ‘92 a part of these building haven’t had a proper safeguarding. These abandoned houses, left outside their owners’ attention, after some time became amortized. The aggravated atmospheric conditions have also influenced in their impairing and degradation,’’ said Vasil Polo, director of Cultural Monuments. 

The economic difficulties of the owner for preserving the buildings or their overall abandonment has affected the destruction of one of Gjirokanster’s and Albania’s historical values. If this situation prevails the characteristic UNESCO protected houses will turn into photographed memories and ruins. The snowfall and bad weather have also negatively influenced the conditions of endangered buildings. 

The characteristic buildings especially in the upper part of the city, which is considered as an historic zone, are being ruined due to amortization. The continuous collapsing of roofs and stone walls are threatening both the lives of the families living inside these buildings, and the loss of indisputable and induplicate values. 

The uninhabited premises have higher demolition risks. Just in the past five Gjirokaster has lost historically significant buildings of the first category, like the cultural monument Lolomani house, with an age of 156 years. This house is part of the Kabili house, two historical residences at the Old Bazaar. Other historical residences which were standing in the past decade, like Selfates’, Litos’, Topullis’, Haderajs’, Kuvanis’, etc., are now in crumbles. 

The roofs are the most risked parts of the buildings during the winter, from the humidity and snowfall. Experts evaluate that the humidity doubles the weight of already amortised roofs, which also puts under risk other historical residences. 

Polo said that an inspection of the total inventory of residences in historical neighbourhoods has started. He said that the main concern in creating and solving this issue is the recognition from many owners who fail to find an agreement language, and thus leaving these houses in ruins due to lack of investment. According to Polo, the solution of the ownership problem would prevent this devastation, but this specific issue for Gjirokaster requires a political intervention.

“This is a problem to the ownership solution of these houses, which is politic. The parliament should decide how will the government administer these abandoned buildings, which cannot be left in this condition,’’ said Polo.

Regardless of the investments made in some building complexes and restoration of the Old Bazaar at the historical center, according to experts the muzeal part of the city is in dramatic conditions. This comes due to gradual devastation which is moving on a faster pace than the restoration processes, turning valuable architectural building into ruins.

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                    [post_title] => Gjirokaster’s UNESCO-protected houses are endangering citizens
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                    [post_date] => 2019-01-19 12:27:23
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 15 - On 2006, professor and former Albanian ambassador in France Ylljet Alicka, published a satirical novel titled Nje Rrefenje me Nderkombetare (A story with internationals). The book has been published in French, and ten years later, it was translated and published in English under the title The Internationals, and was also produced into a film funded by the National Center of Filmography, with a script by Alicka and directed by Pluton Vasi.

The book, which got a negative appraise from the international community in Albania and beyond, has been recently published in Italy by the Rubbettino publishing house under the name Gli Internazionali, translated in Italian by Italian Albanologist Elio Miracco and Albanian author Amik Kasoruho.

gli internazionali

 

The publisher refers to the book with the description “Career diplomats- a bitter comedy and a stinging irony.’’ Director Pluton Vasi who directed the film adaptation of the book referred to the story of The Internationals as a black comedy. 

The novel’s characters include international officials, who, often anonymous at their home countries, upon arriving to Albania, after “struggling to help this country or tell locals the way to progress,” their life takes a new meaning thanks to the “indigenous” taking care and welcoming them. 

“This is the reason why many of the internationals cannot leave or grow so desperate when they finally leave Albania,” said Aliçka in an interview conducted with Tirana Times’ Europa Magazine.

The following description is an excerpt by the Rubbettino publishing house in Italy:

The residency of an international diplomatic body in Albania, right after the fall of communism; a desperate ambassador, because of his young girlfriend’s treachery; a few attaches with different nationalities, who make ‘elbow wars’ who will make it on top. And a young Albanian official, who observes the paternalisms, the envies, the carrierisms and the hypocrisies of this diversified circus. 

A simultaneously sweet and bitter comedy,  which unveils the behind-the-scenes intrigues to one of the ‘humanitarian’ missions, from which the following question naturally arises: how can the West come to the developing countries’ aid, when it has a megalomaniac and domineering approach, and how can a transitional country accept the help of those who mock its identity?

Alicka’s sharp and poignant irony- who as a former diplomat knows well the world he confesses- smites both the zealous international saviors, and the subdued and wretched locals. A sarcastic novel, fresh and funny, which deserves an honor spot in the best Balkans tradition of this genre. 

 
                    [post_title] => Book “Internationals’’ is published in Italy
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                    [post_date] => 2019-01-18 14:17:11
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 14- The Center for Interfaith Cooperation in Elbasan organized on Jan. 12 the annual Peace March to outcall politics. 

This year’s motto was “Politics is a Mission, use it at the benefit of people!”. The Peace and Intercommunity Solidarity March has turned into a tradition in the city, expresses the cooperation and engagement of the religious communities in increasing the accountability for society’s thrifting by affecting the growth of out hope and motivation.

The event was attending by various religious communities leaders as well as the mayor of Elbasan and citizens. The director of the Center for Interfaith Cooperation in Elbasan, Dr. Arben Ramkaj stressed on the cooperation of all actors to offer peace to the people and invited everyone to serve with dedication and honesty. 

“Because we know that the future of this country is related to youth, and the religious communities aren’t indifferent to your future. We don’t work only for the spiritual world, but we also work for the goods of this world, for a better thriving of your lives and our country, the country we deserve to live in and not on those that people leave to due to their economic problems,’’ said Dr. Ramkaj during the opening of the march. 

He said that their duty as religious communities was to spread a message to all state institutions, Albanian politicians, and especially the Elbasan politicians and officials that more should be done. He said that Elbasan is one of the poorest districts in Albania with serious issues regarding the youth, their education, and other issues they face on daily basis. 

This was an activity to raise awareness among the political actors for the youth. After a long and slow transitioning time Albania is now in need of a more radical change for society, which should offer better service and support programs that would ensure security and peace.

Elbasan hosts 10 thousand students from all over Albania who complete their bachelor studies at the Aleksander Xhuvani University. These students bring their cultures, folklore, and education, which in turn are exchanged among one another in an integration prevailed by tolerance. As mentioned by Peci Naqellari, deputy provost of the University, this was best shown during the student protests, who also received a support from the religious centers in efforts to keep the protest as peaceful as possible. 

The religious tolerance is encouraged at this university apart from gaining knowledge and culture. A cooperation in various activities between the university, religious communities and local institutions have allowed a spread of peace and tolerance among the students, genders, and religious believers. This would be more enhanced if the local institutions provided more help and support, nevertheless the municipality assured a continuously cultivating work being done towards that direction. 

The march started at the grand square “Elbasan Arena’’ to continue throughout the city with a few stops where other religious leaders and organizers held speeches about the role of the faith in people’s lives. 

“Religion is a holy gift for citizens and should be put into service for the community, just as peace is also a gift for humanity, and should be made a gift for others,’’ said Monsignor Giovanni Peragine. 

Apart from promoting peace, a stress was put on the accountability of each individual who has a contribution to the society.

Agim Duka, Elbasan’s mufti, didn’t call on the accountability of the family first of all, who has the duty of raising citizens, and then to the politicians who undermine their mission and obligations. 

The march displayed the proper humans that individuals behold, tolerance, peace and honesty. In the last stop of this solidarity walk at Aqif Pasha’s bust sculpture, the religious leaders expressed their readiness to offer any sort of help on service of peace. The participating citizens on the other hand were holding billboards emphasizing the significance that politics, services and religion have in offering concrete opportunities through their collaboration. 

“This activity is about the youth who deserve the best possible ministrations, which will be supported by the Albanian society and government. We hope that through this awareness activity our voice will be heard by the officials and Albanians, and that this voice be taken seriously,’’ said Dr. Ramkaj, director of the Center for Interfaith Cooperation in Elbasan. 

The Center for Interfaith Cooperation in Elbasan is a center of the traditional religious communities of Elbasan which practices its activity at the city of Elbasan and in other Albanian countries as well. The theme and motto of this year’s peace march was a message that the religious communities leaders wanted to forward that the Albanian politics should be more attentive to youth and policies made for them, and also take as many necessary measures in response to their requests about education, employment, health, etc..

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                    [post_title] => A Peace March to call out politics
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            [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 23- Prior to the communist regime in Albania, the government and intellectuals of the ‘30s were trying to establish an High Academy for Fine Arts with an enhanced enthusiasm. These undertaken steps were published at scientific and literary newspaper Minerva on July and Aug. of 1933. More specifically the ideas would be inspired by the rare talents of the time, both nationally and internationally appraised. One of these were also Odhise Paskali, one of the best sculptors of the time. 

Another impressive painter who started out making a name for himself during the ‘30s, but whose career also developed during communism, was Sadik Kaceli. Kaceli is introduced at the cover of Minerva with a representative painting of an Albanian highlander dressed in a national costume, with a peaceful and lovely pose while a rifle rests on his shoulder. The painting is distinguished by a compositional perfection and a unique colors development, which with its light colors create a harmony and elegance in this young man’s portrait.

1548168850_13ok

 

This picture was painted by Kaceli while he was studying under Italian painter Mario Ridola at the Tirana Drawing School. All the works of the students at this school published at Minerva speak of talents that powerfully display themselves at this time, and who left marks as establishers of an Albanian bright art.

The Minerva newspaper directed by Nebil Cika and with his wife Ikbale Cika as administrator, also uncovers works from other Albanian authors. They appear quite talented, however they are forgotten today. This pictorial art with volatile beginnings were the day’s theme. In Minerva’s pages apart from the development of these talents and their fame, it was also stressed on the necessity of a Fine Arts Academy. 

It was due to these students and professors of the Tirana Drawing School that continued the artistic dream of the ‘30s generation, by establishing the Fine Arts Academy and giving it a celebrated name despite of the ideologic censorships. 

“Notice these works and you will clearly see that this school should be rightfully called the Fine Arts Academy. [...] We have today four Albanian boys that display rigorous skills and a distinguishable talent in their works.,’’ writes in its ninth number the newspaper Minerva. 

The newspaper writes about how the school was positively contributing to the growth of the Albanian artist and art. It mentions the names of Kaceli and Strazirniri distinguishable in visual arts such as painting and drawing, and Lazari and Makoci in sculpture. It then goes to make an analysis on the work done with the portraits, stressing on the facial expressions and animation of the characters.

1548168850_14

 

“The old man with beads on his hands, has the expression of the sad man, who however, seems to find consolation by demeaning to fatality. The boy has a face which reminds you of the boys grown without having felt the sweet love of him, e from this fact don’t have a laughing face,’’ writes the author in the same article about the sculptures. 

The author stresses on the fact that by this time (when the article was written in ‘33), it was the second year from when the Drawing School was opened, so the progress was more than celebratory. In the article was also mentioned that the following year the students would start learning anatomy, and the two most talented artists would be sent abroad to perfect their style.

Except of appraising the Albanian students and their work, the article appraises the noble mission the teacher and school leader Ridola was doing, but always linking it to the distinguished talent of the young Albanian students. Ridola appears as having a major contribution both with raising the School as a proper institution in Albania, and mostly in shaping the tastes of Albanian regarding fine arts and its collection. 

The author mentions his visits in 98 house saloons, on which he almost never saw paintings or sculptures, and those he saw weren’t from Albanian artists. There used to be the Friends of Art Club which sought to establish an artistic taste among the Albanian public, but which somehow failed. That is why a pressure and higher expectation was imposed on Ridola and his school, which managed to eventually establish the Fine Arts Academy, and produce renowned artists who left a mark in future artworks that we have today. 

1548168850_12
            [post_title] => Pre-communist era paintings discovered 
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