June 2021 – Issue of Trailblazing Magazine

July 14, 2021

Interview for the Trailblazing Magazine
Pamela Lama, UNOPS Albania Country Manager

1. Last September, the new EU4Culture programme was signed between the EU Ambassador to Albania Luigi Soreca and UNOPS Director of Vienna Multi-Country Office Freya von Groote. Please tell us shortly about UNOPS work in the country and share with us the main pillars of the EU4Culture Programme.

UNOPS is the United Nations (UN) infrastructure and procurement specialists. We also provide other services including project management, financial management and human resources. In Albania, we work with our partners on a range of projects. This includes the EU4Culture project as well as our support to the government of Albania on the COVID-19 response efforts. UNOPS works closely with the UN Country team on sustainable development actively contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2022-2026 with the Albanian government.

2. Can you describe briefly how the Euro40 m fund will be used? Who is eligible for it?

A thorough evaluation has been done, analysing many elements, both the construction conditions and site value, along with the economic benefits it will bring to the community. In cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and the National Institute of Cultural Heritage, 43 sites have been evaluated and 27 were found to be eligible for intervention under the programme. They are all located in areas affected by the earthquake, primarily in the districts of Tirana, Durres, Lezha. The first group of sites where work started or will start soon are the National Historic Museum, The National Puppet Theatre, The Venetian Tower in Durrës, The Ethnographic Museum of Kruja, The Ethnographic Museum of Kavaja, The Lezha Castle, Kurcaj Bridge, The Monastic Church of Rubik, The St. Antony Church of Rodon.

3. During Europe Week 2021, you visited many cultural objects such as Venetian Tower in Durres, the iconic Church in Rubik, the Ethnographic Museums of Kavaja and Kruja, the Tirana Puppet Theatre, the Mosaic of the National History Museum and many others.What are the imminent interventions expected from EU4Culture?

We are working with cultural heritage specialists, craftspeople, public and private entities, and we see this exchange as a direct contribution to both our learning and also to that one of our partners. On the other hand, given the substantial and systematic planned interventions, the complex contracts management, the heavy infrastructure and project management components, UNOPS’ experience and expertise in delivering efficiently is an important advantage. Almost all project sites will undergo several intervention phases, starting from the restoration and conservation of the fabric, interpretation, cultural heritage management and business planning and disaster risk management. In close partnership with the Ministry of Culture, we shall be working to develop new models of sustainable and responsible heritage utilization which is contributing towards local and national economic development.

4. How important is it to raise awareness about the importance of EU4Culture project? In your opinion, what is the importance of communicating and sharing views about cultural heritage?

EU4Culture is one of the largest ever cultural heritage programmes designed by the EU. We share the EU and the government of Albania’s vision for a future that respects and preserves its past. Protecting history allows more people to learn and share the story of that culture. The value of this extends far beyond cultural heritage and can allow local communities to take advantage of the economic benefits too.

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