'Culture Is Part of Austria's Diplomacy'
By Genc Mlloja
Albanian Daily News
Published February 14, 2018
"Austria has chosen Albania for the 'Austria-Albania, Cultural Year 2018', because culture and art are very important bridges. Culture is part of our diplomacy, and we are allies and friends and besides culture many things link our two people and countries," has said the Austrian Ambassador to Albania, Johann Sattler.

Unveiling the agenda of Austrian Cultural Year in Albania and details of the Concert "Vienna Salutes Tirana" to be held at the Palace of Congresses on Thursday, the Ambassador, who was accompanied by Austrian artists Gunter Haumer and Benjamin Ziervogel and Albanian artists Inva Mula and Brikena Kamenica, as well as the organizer of the event, Benson Tendler, said on Wednesday that about 60 activities will be held across Albania, including Shkodra, Vlora, Korca, and even in Bajram Curri, a remote northeastern town of this Balkan country.

"Cultural diplomacy means sharing the values of each other's countries and having artists from both Austria and Albania show the cultural wealth to the common people," said the Ambassador.

"It is not a coincidence that Albania has been picked up for Austria's Cultural Year in 2018, because a close political bond and an admirable history of cooperation in many fields exist between our two countries," said the Ambassador, who took the opportunity to underscore Austria's unwavering support to Albania in its EU drive.

"My work also includes the contribution to Albania's EU accession. Austria has been a strong and unwavering supporter of the EU enlargement because we think that the block cannot be complete without the Balkans, including Albania," said Mr. Sattler, who added that it goes without saying that the Albanian Government has its 'home works' to be done, which, according to his confidence, it would do them.

"If the European Union were created once more, it would have started the process with culture because culture is not a luxury, rather it is the foundation of a fruitful co-existence," said the Ambassador.

In addition, Mr. Sattler highlighted the fact that there are more than 50,000 Albanians that live in Austria, and there are also many artists in different genres of culture and art. "I can understand what happens when two cultures join forces. It is also part of the fight against prejudices," he said, underlining that it had been a great challenge the presentation of Tirana in Vienna last November.

In an introduction entitled "The Rediscovery of Commonalities" in the booklet "Cultural Year 2018 Austria-Albania", which is published on the occasion of the event, Ambassador Sattler pointed out among others: "One of my predecessors, the diplomat and researcher, Johan Georg von Hahn, laid the foundation stone of studying in depth the modern Albania and verified scientifically that the Albanian language belongs to the Indo-European family of languages, placing this country and these people in the knowledge of a broad European public through his work "Albanian Studies" in the middle of XIX century. Today, this bond between our countries is being taken further by the entrepreneurs and students, artists and scholars, and the rising number of tourists. However, there are many undiscovered places in our mental maps, many windows which expect to be opened."

'Vienna Salutes Tirana'

Speaking of the Concert 'Vienna Salutes Tirana', which is organized with the support of the Austrian Embassy in cooperation with the Tirana City-Hall and producer "Glanz-Ing Tendler Performances", the Ambassador, Sattler said that "the event is even a question of heart, a skip from politics and an opportunity to be with the people".

"I am privileged to be part of the project 'Vienna Salutes Tirana'. I have been in Albania two other times before and I see beautiful changes in Tirana," said Gunter Haumer, who was looking forward to the Concert 'Vienna Salutes Tirana'.

For his part, the other artist, Benjamin Ziervogel said the Concert is an important activity feeling himself blessed that he was taking part in it. "It is the return that Vienna makes to Tirana for the concert of their Albanian artists in Vienna in November last year," he said.

Mr. Benson Tendler pointed out that art is a key player for strengthening of the links between the two people. He announced that the well known Mexican tenor, Ramos Vargas will be in the program with two pieces.

The well-known Albanian soprano, Inva Mula did not hide what she called the privilege of being invited to be in the team of the Concert 'Vienna Salutes Tirana'.

"We feel good that Vienna is compared with us, Albania. Vienna has brought its artists to Tirana and we feel lucky," Ms. Mula said, recalling the success of the Concert 'Tirana Salutes Vienna' last November.

In her comment the other Albanian singer, Brikena Kamenica considered art a linking bridge. "This year is the time to place a greater attention to Albania as far as culture is concerned," she said, appreciating the fact that there is a mixture of the musical repertoire in the Concert - Austrian classical music and Albanian songs.

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