Museum diplomacy: National Museum of Medieval Art in Korça starts offering tours in Ukrainian 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 26, 2023 21:30

Museum diplomacy: National Museum of Medieval Art in Korça starts offering tours in Ukrainian 

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  • New programs in southeastern Albanian city hope to create new Albanian-Ukrainian connections.

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TIRANA, Feb. 25, 2023 - On the anniversary of Russia’s aggression on Ukraine, a museum in southeastern Albania has decided to show the Albanian people’s support for Ukraine in a unique way -- offering tours in the Ukrainian language. 

The National Museum of Medieval Art in Korça is the first in Albania to offer tours in Ukrainian thanks to an initiative by the first lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, with the support of the first lady of Albania, Armanda Begaj, as well as local institutions in Korça. 

In her video message, during the presentation of the initiative this week, the wife of the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, said that she will further strengthen Albania-Ukraine relations. 

"This means that Ukrainians will be able to hear about the culture and heritage of your country in their native language. In this way, they will understand Albania even better. At a time when Russia speaks the language of aggression, we speak to you through the language of art, history, memory and culture. Let the language of humanity be heard with a powerful voice,” said the first lady of Ukraine. 

Her country has been under attack by the Russian army for a year. Thousands of civilians have been killed and millions more displaced from their homes. 

After Russia started the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, more than 3,000 Ukrainian citizens took refuge in Albania. Until then, Albania had been visited by thousands of Ukrainian tourists every year. 

Albania, a NATO member and UN security council member, has strongly condemned the Russian aggression and joined the West's sanctions against Russia.

- New programs hope to create Albanian-Ukrainian connections - 

The director of the Museum of Medieval Art in Korça, Fjoralba Prifti, told the Albanian-language section of Radio Free Europe that the initiative for the audio guide in Ukrainian will create a strong connection between the two countries. 

"This is a first, symbolic step towards the formation of a permanent connection between the museum, our city and Ukrainian citizens, as peoples with common beliefs, rites and traditions. The application of our audio guide can now also be heard in Ukrainian, creating the possibility of presenting our museum collection, as well as increasing the number of visitors," Ms. Prifti said. 

The audio-guide of the museum had been in Albanian, English and French. 

In 2022, about 27,000 visitors have had a close look at the rare collection that this museum offers -- half of them, about 14,000, have been foreigners, including a few Ukranians. 

The spokesperson of the Embassy of Ukraine in Albania, Yunna Gayduchyk, says that the audio guide in Ukrainian language exists in the famous museums of 33 countries of the world. 

- Korça as ‘favorite city’ - 

Conveying the message of Ambassador Volodymyr Shukrov, she says that Korça is "the favorite city for Ukrainians living in Albania". 

"Tourists will already be interested in getting to know the wonderful exhibits of this museum, having the opportunity to listen in the Ukrainian language, and I am convinced that visits to the museum will be more frequent now," says Ambassador Shukrov. 

The initiative is expected to be extended to other museums in Albania, while in Korça it is not only the National Museum of Medieval Art that speaks the Ukrainian language. A Ukrainian Book Corner was inaugurated at the Thimi Mitko public library. 

The book fund of this corner, which was donated to the library by the Embassy of Ukraine in Albania, includes publications in Ukrainian and English on Ukrainian history, identity and culture. 

The Korça region has another tie to Ukraine as Albanians from the region moved to Ukraine about 300 years ago, and several Albanian-speaking villages still exist in the Odessa region.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 26, 2023 21:30