“In Albania we are satisfied even with little,” A. said with a melancholic smile. He was standing next to his horse-drawn carriage to which he and his wife were loading large corn bundles, or stooks, from the last strip left of a field they used to work since years. The rest of that field has been converted a month earlier into a 25 meters wide barren stretch of land, earmarked for a gas pipeline that begins more than 3000 kilometres away.
The Trans Adriatic Pipeline, TAP, is part of the Southern Gas Corridor, a chain of conduits planned to deliver 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe every year, and 6 billion cubic meters to Turkey. This huge undertaking is the largest infrastructure project the European Union is currently involved in, and the stakes are high.
But on the ground, many people feel they are sidelined – particularly those who own lands where the TAP’s dark, huge tubes are to be laid.
In late August, 2016 a joint fact finding mission of the Albanian Helsinki Committee and Bankwatch visited over 30 communities across Albania affected by the TAP project.
In the outskirts of the village of Seman, barely eight kilometres from Albania’s Adriatic coast, A. and his wife were just about to call it a day when we met them on that summer evening. A few meters away, a trail of dark metal tubes, each of about two meters in diameter, was waiting to be welded together and laid to the ground. At the time they seemed like a harmless playground for the village children.
Read more about this story from the begining of 2017 and still a major problem today, on Osservatorio balcani e caucaso.