By Besar Likmeta
Following criticism of the idea, the Albanian government has shelved plans to slaughter 1,000 lambs to mark the 100th independence anniversary on Wednesday.
The idea for a mass slaughter of lambs was proposed by the Prime Minister, Sali Berisha.
But it does not appear in the official calendar of festivities published by the Municipality of Tirana, which has opted for a gigantic cake measuring 550 square metres instead.
On Monday, the youth forum of the opposition Socialist Party held a rally in front of Berisha’s office panning the idea of the lamb slaughter as an embarrassment.
Albania declared independence from the Ottoman Empire 100 years ago, on November 28, 2012 and the government has promised to celebrate it with gusto.
Several open-air concerts will be held in the city, while hundreds of animators have been engaged to heighten the celebratory mood. The celebration will include also a concert from Kosovo-born pop starlet Rita Ora, who has agreed to perform for free in Tirana.
Tirana has meanwhile been decked out with the Albanian flag and its colours, hanging from public buildings, businesses, private homes, cars and motorcycles.
Although the flag, with its black double-headed eagle on a red background, is an important symbol of unity for Albanians who are scattered over several states in the region, some critics have the decorations as kitsch.
“It’s ugly, exaggerated, arrogant and dull… the exponential use of the red and black in an oceanic mass does not inspire but rather leaves you out of breath with its emptiness,” Ardian Vehbiu, a popular commentator, complained in a recent blog post.
“It looks like a platform for kitsch nationalism, in which football-stand passions are mixed with the imagination of kindergarten-age children,” he added.
Vehbiu is particularly annoyed with two heart-shaped stands, put up by the Party for Justice, Integration and Unity, PDIU, which include distorted maps of Albanian-populated areas in the Balkans under one state.
A junior government partner, the PDIU represents the Cham minority, a group of Albanians expelled from Greece at the end of World War Two from the region of Chameria.
“If our neighbours took these maps seriously, we would have heard a protest somewhere, or a diplomatic note, or some ambassador being withdrawn,” Verhbiu writes.
“As this has not happened, it makes our redrawing [of boundaries] even more pathetic and miserable, a late moan that does not impress anyone but looks like the horn of a bus full of football fans whose team has been stuck from God knows how many seasons in the amateur leagues,” he concludes.