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Gov’t-opposition clash over National Theatre bill amendments

Gov’t-opposition clash over National Theatre bill amendments

TIRANA, Sept. 19 – Albania’s Socialist majority in the Parliamentary Committee of Productive Activities voted on Tuesday for amendments in the law for the building of a new National Theatre building, opening a competition for the realization of this project

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Parliamentary boycott continues, as opposition holds meeting in Vlora

Parliamentary boycott continues, as opposition holds meeting in Vlora

TIRANA, Sept. 20 – As the country’s Socialist majority put on the vote President Ilir Meta’s decree on the new National Theatre building accompanied by a few amendments on Thursday in parliament, the opposition marked its fourth absence since the

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German foreign minister says 2019 won’t automatically open negotiations for Albania

German foreign minister says 2019 won’t automatically open negotiations for Albania

TIRANA, Sept. 20 – Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that June 2019 doesn’t mean automatic opening of accession negotiations for Albania, during his meeting in Tirana with Albanian counterpart Ditmir Bushati. “On June this year a heuristic decision was

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Senior US diplomat Elisabeth Millard visits Tirana

Senior US diplomat Elisabeth Millard visits Tirana

TIRANA, Sept. 19 – Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Elisabeth Millard began a visit to Tirana on Wednesday. She was welcomed by President Ilir Meta, with whom she discussed Albania’s main

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Gov’t-opposition clash over National Theatre bill amendments

Gov’t-opposition clash over National Theatre bill amendments

TIRANA, Sept. 19 – Albania’s Socialist majority in the Parliamentary Committee of Productive Activities voted on Tuesday for amendments in the law for the building of a new National Theatre building, opening a competition for the realization of this project

Read Full Article
Start of academic year highlights deep gaps in Albania’s education system

Start of academic year highlights deep gaps in Albania’s education system

TIRANA, Sep. 17 – The new academic year began today in Albania, with approximately 480,000 new elementary and high-school students. The education ministry announced this year’s curricula is more relaxed and further away from old teaching methods. Around 32,000 children

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US Ambassador says war on drugs will only end when “big heads” are caught

US Ambassador says war on drugs will only end when “big heads” are caught

TIRANA, Sept. 16 – US ambassador to Albania Donald Lu said Friday night that the fight against marijuana cultivation and distribution in the country can not be considered complete without arresting the people organizing it. Ambassador Lu, who will be

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Gov’t sways under EU advice to launch open call for new National Theatre building

Gov’t sways under EU advice to launch open call for new National Theatre building

TIRANA, Sept. 13 – The Albanian government confirmed it aims to change the new National Theatre bill by launching an open call for the area’s urban construction and development, after a letter by the European Commission suggested so on Tuesday.

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‘Democracy doesn’t wait’ book launches in Tirana

‘Democracy doesn’t wait’ book launches in Tirana

Sept. 12 – On Tuesday, Sept. 11, coinciding with the 17th anniversary of the Twin Towers terrorist attacks, journalist Frank Shkreli, who is ex-director of Voice of America for Euro-Asia, released a book in three volumes titled ‘Democracy doesn’t wait.’

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COD inaugurates ‘Myrtis: face to face with the past’ exhibition

COD inaugurates ‘Myrtis: face to face with the past’ exhibition

TIRANA, Sept. 13 – The Centre for Openness and Dialogue will open on Friday, Sept. 14, the exhibition titled ‘Myrtis: face to face with the past’ – a special exhibition that comes for the first time in Albania straight from

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 19 - Albania’s Socialist majority in the Parliamentary Committee of Productive Activities voted on Tuesday for amendments in the law for the building of a new National Theatre building, opening a competition for the realization of this project as well as the development of the surrounding area, in the center of the capital.

However, the amendments adopted on Tuesday in the commission seem to actually open a mere formal contest and other companies that might be interested are in uneven conditions with the company ‘Fusha Shpk.’

The previous version of the law provided for the new NT to be built by the Fusha company, which undertook construction of the new facility under the project of renowned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels in exchange for the possibility of building a high-rise complex in the area surrounding the theatre, which is mainly state-owned. 

The projects’ submission deadline has been set at 30 days, a time which, according to experts contacted by VoA, is considered too little from the technical point of view for putting together a serious proposal, while ‘Fusha Shpk’ has one ready already.

Ingels himself has said the new NT building project has been under development since December 2016, in Top Channel’s Top Show.

In addition, Ingel’s project has been presented as if commissioned by ‘Fusha Shpk.’ However, in another instance, Ingels also said Prime Minister Edi Rama and Tirana’s Mayor Erion Veliaj were the ones to request the new building. 

The proposed left-wing changes were presented today in the Productive Activities Committee in the framework of reviewing the decree of President Ilir Meta, who turned the Theatre law back after it was adopted in July, accompanied with a big number of remarks.

The commission voted against the president’s decree, but the Socialist MPs did not want the changes to pass at a second moment, instead choosing to amend the law within the context of reviewing the decree.

This method makes sure the latest changes don’t pass through the country’s president again, but rather automatically go into power. 

The development was opposed by the country’s opposition, however the majority argued for all the past cases the opposition acted similarly when it was in power.

The meeting took place in complete chaos, amid fierce discussions between the parties. The essence of the proposed changes was not discussed, and the left, after the quick reading of all the articles, cast the to the vote, while almost all opposition MPs were standing to argue against the decision. 

The Chairman of the Commission, Socialist Eduard Shalsi, chose to not even formally put each individual article on the vote, bypassing Article 8 directly to the last Article 11 of the draft law proposed by them, thus opening the way to send it immediately to parliament on Thursday. 

The majority withdrew from the special bill proposed by the Government after encountering objections from the European Commission, which in its letter to the Albanian authorities emphasized that it encouraged them “to pursue compliance with EU public procurement principles and provide non-discriminatory access to the market.” 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 20 - As the country’s Socialist majority put on the vote President Ilir Meta’s decree on the new National Theatre building accompanied by a few amendments on Thursday in parliament, the opposition marked its fourth absence since the start of the parliamentary season, instead holding its own meeting in Vlora.

Thursday’s parliamentary session was only attended by two Socialist Movement for Integration MPs, allegedly for the purpose of renewing their mandate, while the opposition continued in yet another location what it has called “public denouncement” of the links between crime and corruption. 

On Wednesday, after meeting actors opposing the demolition of the old NT building altogether, opposition leader Lulzim Basha made a public announcement saying “voting the bill is a coup d'etat and whoever votes is considered a terrorist.”

According to Prime Minister Edi Rama, the opposition’s efforts to protect the old national theatre building are hypocritical, adding the government’s project will turn the theatre into one of the region’s most modern.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 20 – Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that June 2019 doesn’t mean automatic opening of accession negotiations for Albania, during his meeting in Tirana with Albanian counterpart Ditmir Bushati. 

“On June this year a heuristic decision was made on EU’s framework regarding a possible start of accession negotiations for Albania in 2019. It is a decision which shows evaluation for the undertaken reforms in the last years in Albania and I think that it has been a quite energetic political engagement. At the same time, as we know it, EU member states have made it clear that June 2019 is not an automatic date regarding the start of membership negotiations, the criteria is clear, there are steps or other results expected in terms of reforms that will convince the sceptics on this process,’’ said Maas. 

Maas is taking a tour around the Balkans this week, following the itinerary Bucharest, Skopje, Tirana, Athens. 

The aim of the visit and his agenda’s goal specifically focus on a united Europe, declaring that Europe cannot be separated into separate regions.

“Europe cannot be separated into geographic regions - there is only one Europe,” said Maas before starting the tour.

Maas spoke of his good impression regarding the enthusiasm of Western Balkans citizens for the shared EU values. He said the region deserves a realistic perspective regarding accession, but he put emphasis on fulfilling the set conditions. He mentioned that what is crucial for WB countries is for the reforms on stronger democracy, judicial state and good governance to be put forward.

On Wednesday, he stopped in Tirana to talk with Bushati regarding Albania’s EU accession negotiations, Germany’s support and expectations towards our country. 

He praised the vetting reform and called it an important step in ensuring a stronger democratic state and independent judicial system with the verification of judges and prosecutors. However, he said that Germany expects Albania to make further progress in fighting corruption and organized crime and fulfill the EU conditions by achieving concrete results, so that it will fully deserve the starting of the negotiations.

“The fact that accession talks for Albania might start by June 2019 shows an evaluation for the efforts done so far,’’ said Maas. “Germany gives its political support in this direction through the commitment of high-level counselors and through the framework of various projects.” 

Germany’s support and promotion to Albania’s European perspective is also motivated by its positive role in the stability of the region. 

In this context, Maas referred to Albania as “the anchor for regional stability.” 

Bushati said Germany’s support to Albania is irreplaceable during the visit of his German

counterpart. The comment comes in context of the generous financial assistance that Germany gives to Albania, in addition to its political support. Germany is the biggest financial donor to Albania, with around one billion dollars, which in global terms comprises the greatest financial support per capita from Germany.

The Albania-Germany economic cooperation for development, which marks its 30th anniversary this year, is described as excellent by the German Ambassador to Albania, Susanne Schütz.

In his visit in Tirana, Maas had meetings and talks with Bushati, Prime Minister, Edi Rama, opposition leader Lulzim Basha, and vetting commission representatives.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 19 - Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the State Department's Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Elisabeth Millard began a visit to Tirana on Wednesday.

She was welcomed by President Ilir Meta, with whom she discussed Albania’s main developments and the progress of the reforms, as well as the situation in the Balkans, the referendum in Macedonia and the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.

Millard also met Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama and Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati.

After meeting government representatives, Millard also met with opposition leader Lulzim Basha who, according to an official announcement by the Democratic Party, listed the main problems the country is facing today, as well as the opposition’s proposal to verify politicians’ assets and their potential links with crime.

During her meetings in Tirana, according to a statement from the US Embassy, ​​"Mrs. Millard praised the strong friendship between the United States and Albania and discussed the strategic partnership between the two countries.” 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 19 - Albania’s Socialist majority in the Parliamentary Committee of Productive Activities voted on Tuesday for amendments in the law for the building of a new National Theatre building, opening a competition for the realization of this project as well as the development of the surrounding area, in the center of the capital.

However, the amendments adopted today in the commission seem to actually open a mere formal contest and other companies that might be interested are in uneven conditions with the company ‘Fusha Shpk.’

The previous version of the law provided for the new NT to be built by Fusha, which undertook construction of the new facility under the project of renowned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels in exchange for the possibility of building a high-rise complex in the area surrounding the theatre, which is mainly state-owned. 

The projects’ submission deadline has been set at 30 days, a time which, according to experts contacted by VoA, is considered too little from the technical point of view for putting together a serious proposal, while ‘Fusha Shpk’ has one ready already.

Ingels himself has said the new NT building project has been under development since December 2016, in Top Channel’s Top Show.

In addition, Ingel’s project has been presented as if commissioned by ‘Fusha Shpk.’ However, in another instance, Ingels also said Prime Minister Edi Rama and Tirana’s Mayor Erion Veliaj were the ones to request the new building. 

The proposed left-wing changes were presented today in the Productive Activities Committee in the framework of reviewing the decree of President Ilir Meta, who turned the Theatre law back after it was adopted in July, accompanied with a big number of remarks.

The commission voted against the president’s decree, but the Socialist MPs did not want the changes to pass at a second moment, instead choosing to amend the law within the context of reviewing the decree.

This method makes sure the latest changes don’t pass through the country’s president again, but rather automatically go into power. 

The development was opposed by the country’s opposition, however the majority argued for all the past cases the opposition acted similarly when it was in power.

The meeting took place in complete chaos, amid fierce discussions between the parties. The essence of the proposed changes was not discussed, and the left, after the quick reading of all the articles, cast the to the vote, while almost all opposition MPs were standing to argue against the decision. 

The Chairman of the Commission, Socialist MP Eduard Shalsi, chose to not even formally put each individual article on the vote, bypassing Article 8 directly to the last Article 11 of the draft law proposed by them, thus opening the way to send it immediately to parliament on Thursday. 

The majority withdrew from the special bill proposed by the government after encountering objections from the European Commission, which in its letter to the Albanian authorities emphasized that it encouraged them “to pursue compliance with EU public procurement principles and provide non-discriminatory access to the market.” 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sep. 17 - The new academic year began today in Albania, with approximately 480,000 new elementary and high-school students. 

The education ministry announced this year’s curricula is more relaxed and further away from old teaching methods.

Around 32,000 children will be going to first grade, while 32,000 seniors will try out the new senior program which, according to the ministry, is based on what will follow in university and the work market.

The ministry also said this academic year free academic textbooks were distributed from the first to the fourth grade for approximately 190,000 children, while from grade five to grade nine children still had to pay for their textbooks.

However, the Coalition for Education said on Monday Albania remains one step behind all other European and even regional countries in financing education. According to the coalition, the government has been promising to raise the budget for education by up to 5 percent of the GDP for 6 years, but the state budget for education has actually stagnated at only 3 percent.

This lack of investment in the education of children and young people places Albania among the last countries in Europe for the results and achievements of students compared to the OECD countries.

The lack of public investment in education and the scarce government spending on quality and inclusive programs continue to leave a small proportion of children and adolescents without access to education, the Coalition for Education said.

To make matters concrete, the coalition quoted the World Health Organization, according to which nearly half of the schools have no drinking water and about 70 percent of them do not have adequate hygiene conditions for child education.

Almost 64 percent of children with disabilities remain out of the secondary education system and only 35 percent of schools in Albania are accessible to these children, the Coalition said. Although this school year finds public high-schools with a doubled number of teacher assistants, most children will not benefit from this support measure. 

The coalition added that education of Roma and Egyptian children remains another big problem, as 38.6 percent of Roma and Egyptian children do not attend mandatory education.

One of the main problems of education remains violence and bullying at school: nearly 40 percent of students are victims of physical and psychological violence, while 22 percent of them feel threatened by teachers. Almost 20 percent of students are bullying victims, while 50 percent of students are witnessing discrimination of students in their school, the coalition concluded. 

 
                    [post_title] => Start of academic year highlights deep gaps in Albania’s education system 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-09-16 10:39:31
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 16 - US ambassador to Albania Donald Lu said Friday night that the fight against marijuana cultivation and distribution in the country can not be considered complete without arresting the people organizing it.

Ambassador Lu, who will be leaving the country next week at the close of his term, made these comments in a last interview given for Vizion Plus TV’s ‘Real Story’ show.

Albanian authorities claim the phenomenon of cultivation has disappeared in Albania.

“Failing to arrest the organizers will cause a comeback of cannabis fields, cocaine and heroin will only increase in the country. Some of them are petty criminals, some of them are politically protected criminals. And this is a serious issue in your country,” Lu said.

Speaking of the activity of Albanian criminal groups, Lu said the fight against organized crime is a difficult one and will require real sacrifices from the government.

“Two and a half years after the Greek government issued a warrant, we have not yet arrested Klement Balili. It’s scandalous that Lul Berisha is released early from prison and can freely walk the streets of Durres. And it’s scandalous that only this week the trial of Shullazi will take place, when Shullazi himself has threatened judges and prosecutors, so that prosecutors do not even go to court. How is this place to move forward when these things happen? I know that Fatmir Xhafaj and Arta Marku and Ardi Veliu will be judged on whether they will be able to put these criminals behind bars,” Lu further said.

However, he also added it is important the Albanian people realized that their government, police and prosecution are serious when it comes to fighting organized crime and that cooperation with foreign anti-criminal services have lead to the arrest of some dangerous criminals over the last months.

Concerning former General Prosecutor Adriatik Llalla, with whom Lu has had public confrontations with, he said the ex-GP represents many of the officials that tried to hamper the judiciary reform. 

“We have praised the decision of the judges to sequester his many unexplained assets and have prompted the country’s judiciary to limit his moves so that he doesn’t run away from justice,” Lu said.

An issue for which the US ambassador has been pronounced several times has been the investigation into former Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri. 

“The US government believes that this issue is sufficiently important to deserve to be taken to court by a judge who has passed the vetting and be judged according to evidence, and not according to political pressure. This is what we seek. We support efforts to move forward transparently,” Lu concluded.

 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-09-14 07:56:28
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 13 - The Albanian government confirmed it aims to change the new National Theatre bill by launching an open call for the area’s urban construction and development, after a letter by the European Commission suggested so on Tuesday.

“One point where we are thinking of interfering and improving is to not have a predetermined subject, but to launch an open call for any subject interested in competing for the project,” MP and Head of the Production Activities Commission Eduard Shalsi said. 

The letter was sent to the authorities after it assessed the government’s proposed special law, which encountered strong opposition by the public opinion and later failed to be decreed by President Ilir Meta.

The NT bill, approved by the majority’s ballot papers power at the start of July, foresees the construction of a new, modern National Theatre building with the funds of private company Fusha Shpk., which in turn will be given thousands of square meters of public property in the city centre to build a high-rise concrete complex.

More than debating the necessity of a new NT building, the controversy following the issue focused on the special procedure that was used to exclude other companies from competing for the building’s construction.

In this context, Head of the EU Enlargement Directorate for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina Michela Matuella requested that the Albanian government change the proposed special law and remove the predetermined private company Fusha Shpk from the legal proposal.

“The Commission services welcome the commitment of the Albanian authorities to amend the Special Law with a view of introducing an open call for the implementation of the National Theatre development project, whereby any private party could submit a proposal for the project. At the same time, the Commission services would like to emphasise the importance of defining clear, transparent and non-discriminatory criteria for the selection of the successful bidder in implementing the Special Law,” the letter read.

Although the letter clarifies no violations of the Stabilization and Association Agreement can be noticed, the commission does encourage the government to follow the EU’s public procurement principles and ensure non-discriminatory access to free-market competition.

The Albanian opposition, which has strongly opposed the project, calling it a corrupt affair, called the letter a victory.

“Brussels’ answer is clear: the government has violated the law. The European Commission’s response clearly supports the opposition’s main concerns. We were right to say the law violates the principle of fair competition. We were also right when we accused the government of having a predetermined and preferential customer, like Fusha Shpk,” Democratic Party MP Jorida Tabaku said.

However, the opposition still opposes any bill aiming to destroy the current National Theatre, calling it a “monument of cultural heritage.”

“The Democratic Party is against any law that affect public property by alienating it and offering it to the private sector for clientelistic criminal affairs. The DP is against any law that is subjected to alienating public property depending on the local government, as it violates constitutional principles,” DP MP Albana Vokshi said. 

On the other hand, Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj, who has been a frontrunner in protecting this project, described the European Commission letter as “excellent news.”

“While the law doesn’t violate the SAA, we have the opportunity to improve it,” Veliaj wrote in social media.

In fact, Veliaj’s position is different from that of a few weeks before, when he reacted harshly to the President Meta not decreeing the law, stating that within 40 days it would be approved without alterations.

“I believe that through a draft agreed with the European Commission, we will soon have the necessary legal basis, the necessary legal and open process for everyone and finally a new theatre for Tirana,” Veliaj stated. 

It currently remains to be seen which procedure will be followed. If the majority will decide to change the law, it would have to approve Meta’s decree for the return to parliament of the present text and then present the new law, that would foresee an open and fair competition for everyone. 

 
                    [post_title] => Gov’t sways under EU advice to launch open call for new National Theatre building 
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                    [post_author] => 281
                    [post_date] => 2018-09-13 11:40:25
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-13 09:40:25
                    [post_content] => Sept. 12 - On Tuesday, Sept. 11, coinciding with the 17th anniversary of the Twin Towers terrorist attacks, journalist Frank Shkreli, who is ex-director of Voice of America for Euro-Asia, released a book in three volumes titled ‘Democracy doesn’t wait.’

The work is a compilation of 10 years of journalistic analytical pieces, discussing themes of issues regarding the Balkans, Russian and Turkish influence in Albania and the region, democracy and transition. The book includes some pieces published in local newspapers as well.

“I tried to raise an issue on the increased influence of Russia and Turkey on Albanian lands. In my own way I have noticed also the danger of high Albanian authorities flirting with these nations’ authoritative leaders, as something not of long-term interests for our nation,” said Shkreli during the inauguration.

Shkreli has had an attractive career, not only as director and reporter of Voice of America for Euro-Asia and later Europe, but as an editor, radio host, one of the first Albanian missionaries to reopen its embassy in the United States of America, former director of the National Albanian American Council, and lately an analysis of relevant issues regarding our country published in Telegraf newspaper.

In his book, he compiles history of Albanian politics since the communist era, international relations and its implications on our nation’s economic and political environment, democracy in the Balkans, freedom and corruption.

The book’s inauguration took place at the capital and was attended by various personalities and politicians, including former Prime Minister Sali Berisha, current president Ilir Meta, and persecuted victims of communism. 

He received recognition on his efforts to bring the truth through the American ideals of freedom and democracy since the communist era. He was also praised for his rich Albanian language and vocabulary in his writings, contrasting it with the anglicized wording of current Albanian journalists.

The constant effort to protect democracy, freedom of speech and thought, a liberated journalistic spirit, and the honest sought of truth, were other considerations made by the invitees, whereas a former politically persecuted, Simon Miraka, took his time to thank Shkreli and his former colleagues from the Voice of America for giving hope to a dictatorial Albania that democracy was reaching our nation, too.

Meta said that Shkreli’s work is a “jolt for all of us, regarding the importance of democracy.” 

He said that democracy is not something given to have, but that should be preserved and protected so it can be cherished and kept.

“All of us could and should cooperate, by having a more humane and civil dialogue, especially in the grounds of political parties,’’ said Shkreli. 

He remarked the necessity of a Kosovo and other Albanian regions’ collaboration, and how a lot can be reached without issues or expenses. 

“I am optimistic that a new generation will accomplish much more in this direction,” Shkreli concluded.

 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-09-13 11:36:34
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-13 09:36:34
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 13 - The Centre for Openness and Dialogue will open on Friday, Sept. 14, the exhibition titled ‘Myrtis: face to face with the past’ - a special exhibition that comes for the first time in Albania straight from Greece’s greatest museums.

The exhibition brings at the COD spaces, for the first time, a variety of archeological and technological objects, paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings and installations.

In Athens, Greece, there is an area called Kerameikos, where a massive grave of ancient skeletons used to lay. In 1995, when diggings for the metro construction were underway, the skull of a little girl from the 5th century BC was discovered. The skull was well-preserved, considering the time, and had all its permanent teeth remaining and some of its primary teeth, too. Using these features, it was estimated that the little girl died out of the typhoid epidemic that hit Athens around 430-427 BC and was around 11 years old.

Since the girl’s skull still preserved her teeth, it allowed a facial reconstruction. Orthodontics professor Manolis Papagrigorakis from the Dentistry department of Athens University shaped the face, whereas the reconstruction was made with the collaboration of doctors, sculptors, archeologists, and other experts of the field.

The little girl was given the name of Myrtida, a popular Greek name for women at the time, but she’s best renowned as Myrtis.

For archaeologists and historians, the face of this little girl has brought to life a very important aspect of Greek history and has responded to the causes of the loss of many Athenians.

Myrtis also became a special girl for the United Nations. Eight years ago, she became a “UN friend” and has now been resurrected to become a powerful voice in preventing diseases affecting children.

In 2010 Myrtis became a friend of the UN Millennium Development Goals, joining its global campaign ‘’We can End Poverty.’’ Her face is a symbol in Greece and in other countries, asking governments to save children’s lives of dying from preventable diseases, such as typhoid. 

Back in 5th century BC, the epidemic in Greece killed 1 in 3 people including Pericles, Athens’ leader then, and nowadays, typhoid affects over 21 million people, causing 200,000 deaths annually. Child mortality of preventable causes is estimated at around 15,000 deaths daily.

This exhibition unfolds its reconstructed face, accompanied by scriptures and images that bring the world she lived in back to life, her efforts, her challenges and simultaneously bringing back to life the Pericles era and the Peloponnesian War. 

The exhibition will remain open for the public until Oct. 6 and there is no entry fee. 

 
                    [post_title] => COD inaugurates ‘Myrtis: face to face with the past’ exhibition 
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            [post_date] => 2018-09-21 11:38:10
            [post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-21 09:38:10
            [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 19 - Albania’s Socialist majority in the Parliamentary Committee of Productive Activities voted on Tuesday for amendments in the law for the building of a new National Theatre building, opening a competition for the realization of this project as well as the development of the surrounding area, in the center of the capital.

However, the amendments adopted on Tuesday in the commission seem to actually open a mere formal contest and other companies that might be interested are in uneven conditions with the company ‘Fusha Shpk.’

The previous version of the law provided for the new NT to be built by the Fusha company, which undertook construction of the new facility under the project of renowned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels in exchange for the possibility of building a high-rise complex in the area surrounding the theatre, which is mainly state-owned. 

The projects’ submission deadline has been set at 30 days, a time which, according to experts contacted by VoA, is considered too little from the technical point of view for putting together a serious proposal, while ‘Fusha Shpk’ has one ready already.

Ingels himself has said the new NT building project has been under development since December 2016, in Top Channel’s Top Show.

In addition, Ingel’s project has been presented as if commissioned by ‘Fusha Shpk.’ However, in another instance, Ingels also said Prime Minister Edi Rama and Tirana’s Mayor Erion Veliaj were the ones to request the new building. 

The proposed left-wing changes were presented today in the Productive Activities Committee in the framework of reviewing the decree of President Ilir Meta, who turned the Theatre law back after it was adopted in July, accompanied with a big number of remarks.

The commission voted against the president’s decree, but the Socialist MPs did not want the changes to pass at a second moment, instead choosing to amend the law within the context of reviewing the decree.

This method makes sure the latest changes don’t pass through the country’s president again, but rather automatically go into power. 

The development was opposed by the country’s opposition, however the majority argued for all the past cases the opposition acted similarly when it was in power.

The meeting took place in complete chaos, amid fierce discussions between the parties. The essence of the proposed changes was not discussed, and the left, after the quick reading of all the articles, cast the to the vote, while almost all opposition MPs were standing to argue against the decision. 

The Chairman of the Commission, Socialist Eduard Shalsi, chose to not even formally put each individual article on the vote, bypassing Article 8 directly to the last Article 11 of the draft law proposed by them, thus opening the way to send it immediately to parliament on Thursday. 

The majority withdrew from the special bill proposed by the Government after encountering objections from the European Commission, which in its letter to the Albanian authorities emphasized that it encouraged them “to pursue compliance with EU public procurement principles and provide non-discriminatory access to the market.” 

 
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