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Albania/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.6 Other relevant issues

Despite the fact that Albania has a considerable Diaspora, there have been no efforts from the government to support the creation of cultural centres or other structures to support the preservation of language and cultural identity among Albanian's living abroad.

Neither the Ministry of Culture, nor the Ministry of Labour and Social Issues, have even drafted "culture in development" programmes. In such cases, Albania relies on international funding.

Albania is open to European and international cultural co-operation and efforts are being made to promote the most important achievements of national culture abroad. The Council of Europe has been the most important partner in international cultural collaboration during the last decade.

Some examples of international exhibitions and festivals in Albania are:

  • the Onufri International Exhibition in Tirana (an annual exhibition for visual arts);
  • the International Festival of Opera Singers in Tirana;
  • the International Festival of Theatre in Butrinti (South of Albania);
  • the International Festival of Experimental Theatre in Elbasan;
  • the International Festival of Comic Theatre in Korca;
  • the Art Biennale of Tirana;
  • Tirana International Film Festival; and
  • International Poetry Festival "Poeteka" / Durres (First edition 2004).

The Tirana International Book Fair takes place every year in November with participants mainly from Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and France. Its main objective is to present the latest publications in Albania and translation from Albanian into other languages. The Book Fair is supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports and by the Open Society Foundation for Albania - Soros.

Albanian artists are now represented at international festivals abroad (e.g. Venice Biennale for visual arts, Film Festival of Venice, International Festival of Theatre in Cairo, International Festival of Poetry in Struga, Macedonia). Albanian writers have been on board the Literature Express Europe 2000, a literary train that crossed Europe in the summer of 2000.

The lack of financial means strongly hampers Albanian cultural activities abroad, so that the import of foreign culture into Albania outweighs the export of Albanian culture.

Albania was involved in the Mosaic Programme of the Council of Europe, which helped in the process of formulating principles for national cultural strategies. This programme is also an example of regional cultural co-operation of South Eastern European countries. For the last five years, Albania has been involved in the programme "European Heritage Days" organised by the Council of Europe and the European Union. The ancient city of Butrinti has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Albania is becoming part of the Regional Programme for Cultural and Natural Heritage of Southeast Europe, a joint programme between the EU and the Council of Europe. It aims to enhance cooperation among nine countries of the region in the area of preservation and rehabilitation of cultural and natural heritage by promoting sustainable development. The programme is composed of 3 Strands (A, B, C) and the Albanian Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sport participates through the Institute of Cultural Monuments in the first two components. Strand A is related to Institutional Capacity Building (ICBP) and is focused on increasing management skills to run projects or design strategies and policies on further development of cultural heritage. Furthermore, Strand B implies the Integrated Rehabilitation of Architectural and Archaeological Heritage (IRPP-SAAH), where the main aim is to fund the rescue of certain archaeological and architectural sites in Albania. This project is a joint initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Commission, through former president Romano Prodi in the framework of CULTURE 2000. Until now, the Ministry has fulfilled some of the requirements of the early stages in this project.

The Ministry has demonstrated its commitment to still continue with this heritage project even at the framework of EU Culture Programme 2007-2013 which has replaced the Culture 2000.

Chapter published: 18-01-2011

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