Because of all the trees, I couldn’t see the forest

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 3, 2019 09:18

Because of all the trees, I couldn’t see the forest

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  • In reality, the Socialist government wants the end to justify the means - “a new NT completely after its own vision, to justify ongoing corruption, lack of transparency and the overall death of democracy.”

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By Sidonja Manushi

It is a well known fact that war tactics perfectly work in politics too, and the good old “divide and conquer” must be a favorite of Albanian politicians.

As actions to demolish the capital’s National Theatre are well underway by now, one might be surprised to see the public debate does not revolve around the lack of transparency and democratic process, nor the corrupt affairs that are driving the entire project, but rather on whether the capital needs a new and restored NT, or not. 

This is a perfect representation of the German idiom: “because of all the trees, I couldn’t see the forest,” meaning that sometimes, paying attention to the unimportant details makes us lose sight of the bigger picture. 

By successfully concentrating the attention on whether the existing NT is falling apart and thus not providing a proper cultural space at this time and age, it seems the majority of Albanians has forgotten what the real problem with the new National Theatre is. 

To begin with, there is only a minority of citizens and artists alike who would confidently argue the existing NT is perfect as it is, or that there is no place for restoration. Others would even support construction of a new building altogether, without blinking an eye. 

However, the end result doesn’t always justify the means. There has been no transparency, no public consultation, no real race amid construction companies and no democracy at any of the steps the government has undertaken regarding this project. The only time it held mock meetings with artists was when it saw they would not give up their protests, or their fight. 

There are countless EU reports to testify to the government’s undemocratic process, from criticism towards the fake race among the companies bidding to construct it (Fusha sh.p.k. won, surprise, surprise!), to advises that no further steps should be taken until a Constitutional Court is back in order. 

This leads to the second point the public debate seems to be missing out – it is not only a new NT being built. Amind the shiny cloud of propaganda claiming a modern building will vitalize the city centre, people have hurried to forget the new NT will be, in fact, part of a high-rise complex noone wants, or needs. So, the new NT is actually being used as a facade to justify even more concrete buildings, which have lately bloomed like mushrooms after the rain in already crowded and chaotic Tirana. 

Surely, this is not a matter of a one-man’s-opinion, but it is not a matter of one government either. The Socialist government wants to make it seem as if the means justify the end – “some more buildings for a new and shiny NT.” In reality, the Socialist government wants the end to justify the means – “a new NT completely after its own vision, to justify ongoing corruption, lack of transparency and the overall death of democracy.” 

As I can confidently say that the good intention of building a new NT could have been done by making all parties involved happy, by keeping old and making new or by restoring what is already there, I can also confidently say creating an even wider gap between where Albania is and where it should be should not be done in the name of art, or at the expense of Albanians. 

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 3, 2019 09:18