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BIRN: Rama challenges the EU, defends the project for the review of protected areas

BIRN: Rama challenges the EU, defends the project for the review of protected

Prime Minister Edi Rama defended a draft law for allowing economic activity in protected areas with the argument that "luxury tourism should be for ordinary people", while adding that the government does not accept the moral lectures of internationals about nature.

Prime Minister Edi Rama used the platform of a competition for Vjosa on Wednesday to defend a draft law of SP deputies on the review of protected areas, while reminding internationals that his government does not accept "moral lectures" on environmental protection .

He also said that the revision of the protected areas comes after the increasing demands of the mayors and under the great pressure for economic development. Rama added that a "harmonious balance" would be found between nature conservation and economic development.

"We need luxury tourism for ordinary people," Rama said referring to the bill, while adding that ordinary people will receive "greater income".

The draft law on the review of protected areas has been presented to the Assembly as an initiative of 12 deputies of the Socialist Party and aims to pave the way for allowing investments of an economic nature. Meanwhile, environmental experts and activists have strongly opposed it, arguing that it would allow further destruction of nature and biodiversity.

Environmental experts also say that the draft is "a piece of legal crap" that contradicts European Union directives and international conventions for the protection of nature.

In his speech, Prime Minister Edi Rama did not spare the messages for those he called "our international friends".

"Before they give us lectures on how to preserve a wild river, we must remind them that other rivers in Europe were also wild, but they tamed them," said Rama.

"The moral lessons about how we should deal with nature, our government cannot accept..," he added.

In the last two years, through contested decisions, the Strategic Investments Committee has approved at least 5 projects within the territory of Protected Areas or near Natural Monuments, ignoring the concerns of the National Agency for Protected Areas.

Activists have appealed that these investments risk irreparable damage to national and international natural resources and threaten the rare species that populate them. /BIRN

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