Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

However, the Constitutional Court in Tirana reopens the hearing for Butrint, reviews the documents, and then withdraws for a ruling.

By triji Mar 22, 2024

A plenary session of the Constitutional Court was convened today in Tirana. This session was held in response to a request made by a group of parliamentarians to annul the statute on the administration of the Butrint National Park as being unconstitutional.

The session that the Constitutional Court had today consisted of the administration of the evidence, the conclusion of the judicial review, and the withdrawal of the institution for decision-making.

During the month of January, the court made the decision to reopen the plenary session. This was done in order to include the Report of the Joint UNESCO-ICOMOS Mission on Butrint among the materials that were being reviewed.

The court restarted the documentary review session this morning with closed doors, while the Voice of America learned that the Court administered the evidence, closed the judicial review based on the documents and has already withdrawn to make a decision, which is expected to be issued within the legal deadlines.

The law that governs the management of a portion of Butrint National Park, which is based on an agreement between the Ministry of Culture and the Butrint Management Foundation, is deemed to be incompatible with both the Constitution and international acts by a group of thirty-six deputies.

They initiated the Constitutional Court, which, after hearing the arguments of the parties, also sought the UNESCO report. Although the report was not released since the Albanian side did not grant its consent, it was handed over to the authorities in September of last year.

A foundation that was established by the Albanian-American Development Foundation (AADF) and the Ministry of Culture would be responsible for the administration of Butrint National Park, according to a decision that was made in May 2022 by the government and the Assembly, which features a socialist majority.

Activists from civil society and members of parliament from the opposition voiced their concerns on the grounds that they believed this peculiar method of administration could be detrimental to the nation’s wealth.

Within the monitoring report that was produced by UNESCO, there was a significant amount of worry voiced regarding the alteration of the limits of the Butrint National Park by the Albanian government. This alteration involved the removal of 600 hectares without the knowledge or agreement of the organization. On the other hand, according to a verification of the Voice of America in the official records, there are 802 hectares that have been left outside the boundaries of the National Park.

UNESCO is particularly critical of the new management model that has been implemented for the ancient city of Butrin, which is referred to as area A-3 of a Foundation that was established by the Ministry of Culture and the AADF. According to the monitoring report, the administration of this region does not fulfill the requirements set forth by UNESCO for integrated management in relation to preservation of natural resources, archaeological sites, and monuments.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) mission has urged that the Ministry of Culture continue to uphold the authority of the State Party for Butrint. For Butrint, the organization attempts to fulfill state duties in accordance with the global standards defined by UNESCO.

“The agreements between the Ministry of Culture, AADF and the new Foundation do not provide a suitable solution, as they are not responsible for the management of the World Heritage property as such” , according to the monitoring mission from the UNESCO.

The report that the government submitted to UNESCO regarding the Butrint National Park was released a few days ago. In the report, the government stated that it intends to modify the Action Plan in order to meet the requirements of an agreement. The appropriate ministry will be responsible for Butrint and will have the authority to supervise it.

It was on Wednesday, a day before the session at the Constitutional Court, that the Minister of Economy, Culture, and Innovation, Blendi Gonxhe, published a reaction on behalf of the institution. In the reaction, he emphasized that the central role of the state will not only not diminish in the new administrative form of a portion of the universal wealth, but it will also be a guarantee of the coherence of the protection and development of the entire Butrint National Park environment.

Due to the fact that this area of approximately 614.3 hectares will be administered by a non-profit organization in the form of a foundation that is based on the agreement between the Ministry of Culture and the Albanian American Development Foundation (AADF), the State Party will no longer have the authority to administer the A-3 area for a period of ten years. This is because the ancient city, which is the most important part of Butrint, is located in this area.

It was promised by the Ministry that the Butrint National Park Coordination Committee would be established. The purpose of this committee would be to coordinate and oversee the execution of strategies and policies for the protection and administration of the universal wealth of the National Park.

In the minister’s response, it is stated that in order to promote openness, local communities and interest groups can be represented on the Board with observer status.

“The central role of the state and its responsibility to the Convention are not affected either by the new form of administration of the A3 sub-area of ​​the Park by the Foundation for the Management of Butrint or by its Board of Directors, which with 100 percent of the votes works for the protection, conservation and development of cultural and natural wealth” , according to the response provided by the ministry.

On the other hand, the Minister of Culture is only represented by one vote on the Board of Directors of the Foundation, which is comprised of five members who each have their own authority to make decisions.

The Ministry of Culture and the Executive Director of the Foundation have chosen a foreign national who was previously unknown to the circles of scholars, archaeologists, and restorers who have worked in Butrint. This individual was chosen before the foundation was established.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention, which Albania joined in 1989, allows for the establishment of foundations by the State Party in order to solicit donations for the purpose of preserving cultural heritage. However, the foundations are not allowed to act as representatives of the State Party, administrators, or global wealth managers.

The response that was sent by the ministry yesterday does not include the removal of 802 hectares from Butrint Park by the government, which was an act that instantly set the path for construction. This is similar to the report that the Albanian government submitted to UNESCO a few days ago. The monitoring report makes reference to the fact that authorization for the development of a resort was granted one month after the borders were altered.

The Ministry only makes reference to the transfer of a portion of the urban territory of Ksamil from the protected area of the Butrint National Park; nevertheless, the Management Plan only envisioned a movement of between 50 and 150 hectares for this purpose, rather than 802 hectares all together.

The city of Butrint is in danger of being listed on the “List of World Heritage in Danger” for the very first time since 1997, when Albania was engaged in chaotic upheaval. Heritage professionals believe that this is the case.

A meeting of the World Heritage Committee is scheduled to take place in India in July of this year. During this meeting, the World Heritage Committee is expected to review the loss of authority of the State Party in the administration of a portion of the world property, the change of property boundaries without the knowledge and approval of the World Heritage Committee, and the development of rapid urban and tourism projects in the area that was removed from the Butrint Park.

By triji

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