Paris, September 20, 2018
Albanians are at a crossroad, a deciding point for the country. The Government has a plan to give the most important historical center of the city to a private developer, who has free reign to destroy the city’s precious cultural heritage — to wipe out the architectural memory and history of the city and build more towers that some believe will make Albania “modern.” But what is the difference between this and communism’s “new man”? In both cases, the history, memory, and identity of Albanians are destroyed for the false promise of the “modern,” the “new,” which we are told will bring us salvation. “New Man,” “Modern European city” – what’s the difference?
Both are fictions, false promises of the salvation to come.
And the false promise of salvation by destroying heritage and building towers is founded on another lie: “modern” does not mean “without history.”
Absolutely, the future of Albania is in Europe – and all “modern” European cities uphold their unique culture and history by preserving a historical center. The historical center of a city is the collective memory of a people. It tells the story of the past and so lets us make sense of the present, and from the sense we make we imagine our futures. “Modern Europe” preserves this memory as the foundation of its identity – and so must Albanians.
Albanians are an ancient people, at the heart of the birth of Western civilization. To enter Europe as a “modern” nation demands that we enter with the full story of these centuries. The jewels of the historic district – the castle of Tirana, the Ottoman-era villas built before Tirana became the capital, the old Mosque, the National Theatre – these are Albania’s history, its architectural memory. This history is the value Albania contributes to Europe. To destroy this history is to destroy the identity integrity of Albania and Albanians – it is exactly the same as erasing the people and replacing them with the “new man.”
At this critical moment, we must decide FOR ALBANIA – its history, its value, the contribution it can make to the historical memory of Europe. To destroy this history is to go to Europe as a pauper, a refugee, a country and people stripped of its story. Naked, voiceless, to be dressed in clothes that do not fit, never knowing ourselves. The “new man” was a death to Albanian identity. We cannot make this mistake again. To preserve the historical center of the city is to preserve the value and integrity of Albanians’ story. This is a story that should be heard.
Published by Klarabudapost.com