Butrint Skandal / Forum for Cultural Heritage Seeks UNESCO's Help
Albanian Daily News
Published October 4, 2017
The Forum for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage in Albania reacted over the last construction scandal in the Archaeological Park of Butrint, near a prehistoric wall, which dates back to the 7-8th century BC. In a public statement, the Forum declared that is following with concern the scandal of concrete constructions inside the Butrint Park, works that are being carried out with the approval of the Ministry of Culture.
"According to the documents and official notices of Mirela Kumbaro's staff, the facility in question will be a souvenir shop while the second facility will be a "Multifunctional Service Center", (in other words a coffee-shop). All the works in process are justified with the "lack of hygienic-sanitary conditions and food security services that were provided to date tourists visiting the park. This logic could be acceptable if Butrint was would be known and visited as a slow food destination or organic farming production center rather than as an archeological site", underlines the statement.
"Despite these ridiculous arguments presented by the minister to defend her wrongdoing she has not yet responded to the main question currently raised by everyone: Why should these two facilities be built up in the park, next to a prehistoric wall, dating to the 7-8th century BC? Is it really necessary to construct a coffee-shop and sell souvenirs inside a park where the underground has not yet extracted its treasures?", reacted the Forum.
"It urged that prior to granting concessions permissions to privates, Butrint has an urgent need for his management plan, which is being delayed by the Ministry of Culture since 12 years, despite the fact that is obligatory on view of the fact that the park part of the UNESCO World Heritage. This plan would also confirm the real "hygienic-sanitary needs" of the ministry in Butrint."
"Minister Kumbaro should also explain the fact that these facilities are being built at the request of private entities, namely the famous Private Public Partnership (PPP), and will be managed by them. And rumors are that we're not talking about businesses operating in the field of art or foundations that help protect the heritage, but other businesses without the proper experience in the complex management required in such cases. Arguing the need of businesses to build coffee-shops or restaurants as a rescue of archeology is more than hypocrisy by the ministry," accused the Forum.
The Forum declared its intention to address an official letter to UNESCO Secretariat denouncing the forthcoming scandal. "Let's hope that the international community will be more sensitive and will stop the irresponsible actions of the ministry to destroy Butrint," end the declaration.

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