Statement by the President of the Republic on the issue of the National Theater

Statement by the President of the Republic on the issue of the National Theater

The President of the Republic, H.E. Ilir Meta, has followed with attention and with great concern the latest activity of state institutions regarding the will to demolish the buildings of the “National Theater”.

President Meta emphasizes once again that the complex of the National Theater embodies the values of our national identity and heritage, values that enjoy special and direct protection from the Constitution of the Republic of Albania.

Yesterday, May 8, the Council of Ministers decided to transfer this national property to the Municipality of Tirana, in order to construct a new building of the National Theater. This decision-making in practice means that another “extra legal” procedure is currently being used, now to the sole responsibility of the Municipality of Tirana, to demolish the buildings of the National Theater.

This decision of the Council of Ministers and the expressed will of the Municipality of Tirana, is not in accordance with the functioning of the state of law and the rule of law, and does not coincide with the values of the European Union, whose cultural institutions have expressed the will of protecting this facility and its restoration.

Yesterday’s decision by the government has rightly created a strong civic reaction, as it is taken, among other things, at a time when the country is subject to the state of natural disaster and restrictive measures of freedom of movement, and at a time when this particular case is pending for evaluation in the Constitutional Court, which has not been operational for 3 years.

President Meta states that in July 2019, he submitted a request to the Constitutional Court which has to examine this issue thoroughly.

In this judicial process that should be examined, the Council of Ministers, the Municipality of Tirana and the Ministry of Culture, etc., are parties in the lawsuit, therefore making such a decision at this time, aggravates the unconstitutional position of state activity towards this object of national importance.

President Meta reminds all state bodies, including the Council of Ministers and the Municipality of Tirana, that one of the main issues that is expected to be examined by the Constitutional Court, is not only about whether the special law no. 37/2018 is unconstitutional, but the most important is related to the legal obligation that any state action or decision aimed or undertaken for the demolition of the National Theater, directly violates the basic constitutional principles of national identity and national heritage on which the citizens of the Republic of Albania have decided to establish and develop their own state, principles set forth in Articles 3 of the Constitution.

In addition, another issue that will be examined by the Constitutional Court has to do also with the fact that the state administrative activity of the central or local government that aims or undertakes actions for the demolition of the National Theater, contradicts the international law that is compulsory to be applicable, embodied also in the European Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Stabilization and Association Agreement.

In these conditions, the President of the Republic, on this Europe Day, calls upon the state authorities that any action or decision to violate the buildings of the National Theater is beyond any logic of the functioning of the state of law and the rule of law in Albania and it would criminally violate the constitutional order, in complete contradiction with the public and national interest.

President Meta emphasizes once again that the Council of Ministers and the Municipality of Tirana should not take any further action that affects the National Theater.

These institutions must show the will and commitment to create environments for the benefit of actors and the public, aiming to build new contemporary functional buildings, but at the same time without violating and affecting the heritage created over the years in the existing complex of buildings of the National Theater, because such a loss would ultimately be irreparable in the future.