Protesters rally against airport project near bird habitat in Albania

STORY: The project is designed to boost tourism, but protesters say it will endanger sanctuaries for some 200 bird species including flamingos and pelicans.

The European Union, which Albania aims to join one day, has said the airport project, launched in December 2021 and due for completion at the end of 2024, was undertaken in contradiction with national and international laws on protecting biodiversity.

The committee of the Bern Convention that works to protect European wildlife and natural habitats has said Albania should suspend the construction of the airport.

Joni Vorpsi, from the NGO Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA), echoed the committee's view, saying it showed "foreign governments are doing more" to protect wildlife in Albania than the country's own authorities.

In November an Albanian court rejected a lawsuit filed by local NGOs against the construction of the airport, but they plan to appeal.