Albanian gov’t erects memorial for Turkey’s 2015 coup victims

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 12, 2019 14:45

Albanian gov’t erects memorial for Turkey’s 2015 coup victims

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  • Meanwhile, the mayor of the Albanian capital Erion Veliaj on Sunday avoided giving direct explanations for the placement of a memorial dedicated to the victims of the failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016, in Tirana’s Lake Park.

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TIRANA, Aug. 10 – A memorial erected in the city centre on the occasion of the 3rd anniversary of the failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016 to honor the victims of the event raised questions about the role of Tirana’s municipality and government, both of which avoided giving explanations on the unprecedented event.

The decision to erect this memorial was unexpected and came without any notice from the government, while it still unclear who’s the decision to do so truly was. 

The lack of transparency and seeming intent to keep this act in the secret was further strengthened by Mayor Erion Veliaj, whose answer to journalists’ questions was unclear. Veliaj did not explain whose decision it was to erect the Memorial and what the motives for such a decision were. 

Veliaj on Sunday avoided giving direct explanations for the placement of a memorial dedicated to the victims of the failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016, in Tirana’s Lake Park. 

Veliaj told reporters that “there are over 50 points in the territory where different cases are remembered, and each one is likely to be respected,” but without indicating whether a parallel could be drawn between the other points he referred to and an event closely related to a foreign country and moreover with the internal political developments there.

Veliaj limited his reaction to the criticism of such an event, to the respect that must be shown for the dead, avoiding the substance of the debate. 

“I would say leave the dead alone, and whoever wants to observe them with a candle, a flower or a prayer, leave them also quiet. Gracious Tirana has room for everyone,” Veliaj said.

According to the mayor, the fact that those who raised their voices on the issue of the memorial did not, according to him, express previous concern that the area was previously covered by bushes does not entitle them to express their opinion. 

“It doesn’t ruin anyone’s job. They tell me it’s on the corner of the Lake, where most of the complainants don’t even remember how it was covered in thorns and how plastic burned there and how it was occupied as a territory,” Veliaj told reporters.

The event was attended by the Deputy Mayor of Tirana, Arbjan Mazniku, although there was no announcement on the municipality’s official website about his participation. 

On the other hand, naming a street or a park is the responsibility of the municipality and it is the city council that ultimately makes the decision. A look at the decisions published on the City Council website shows no sign of approval of the “July 15th Martyrs Road” and the “July 15th Democracy Park.”

In a Facebook post, the Turkish Embassy to Tirana announced that “with the participation of our Albanian brothers and sisters, we successfully and proudly inaugurated the ‘15th of July Street of Martyrs’ and ‘15th of July Democracy Park.’

It seems to be an unusual event, as in Albania there are no monuments dedicated to events in a foreign country, such as the failed coup, which Turkish authorities blamed on cleric Fetullah Gülen and the organization designated terrorist FETO.

Actually, Albania is the only country which has erected a memorial about another country’s internal political issues and victims – an act which also brought about unprecedented popular distress, with Albanians claiming it should not be something for Albania to interfere. 

Three days after this development in Tirana, Prime Minister Edi Rama announced in a photo that he was in Turkey “in the hospitality of President Erdogan at his summer residence in Marmaris”, as explained by Rama himself  who has not infrequently been targeted for close relations with the Turkish head of state, Recep Tayipp Erdoğan. 

A few days later, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu arrived in Tirana for a visit, who stated in an interview with Turkish media that he had discussed with his Albanian counterpart Sandar Lleshaj and Rama “on the fight against all terrorist organizations, including FETO. They have expressed their commitment in this regard,” the Turkish minister said, adding that he was satisfied with “the prime minister and interior minister’s approach to FETO.”

The commemoration ceremony of the names of 251 people who died three years ago in Turkey took place on July 15, organized by the Turkish Embassy to Tirana.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 12, 2019 14:45