Sessions of the Commission

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Visits to Municipalities


Campaign for Protection of Heritage at Risk

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European Heritage Award 2010 Celebrating Excellence awarded to The Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Regional Cultural and Natural Heritage Programme for South Eastern Europe

Integrated Rehabilitation Project Plan/Assessment of Architectural and Archaeological Heritage (IRPP/SAAH)

              The Commission visited Vareš and Visoko municipalities during the 10th session.

The meeting in Vareš municipality was held on 9 December 2003 at 13.30.  The meeting was attended by Commission members and staff and by Hamdo Fatić, mayor; Rusmir Berberović, assistant to the mayor for social services; representatives of the municipal committee for the protection of the cultural heritage (Pavao Vidović, chair; Azmir Muftić, member; Muhamed Ćemalović, member); Krešimir Romić, Regional collection; Hidajet Ganić, representative of the Public Prosecutor's Office, and Vadim Kuznetsov, deputy High Representataive and senior adviser, OHR.

Hamdo Fatić told those present that the municipality had set up a Commission to preserve the cultural and historical heritage.  He thought it was high time to survey the buildings designated, or due to be designated, as national monuments in Vareš municipality.  Unfortunately, most of these buildlings are in poor condition, and need to be surveyed, projects drawn up and protection measures proposed according to certain priorities in line with the municipality's financial capacity.

Azmir Muftić mentioned that in 2001 the Federal Ministry of Regional Planning and the Environment had requested Vareš municipality to provide a list of certain places listed under Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in BiH.  The list includes the mediaeval royal town of Bobovac, the old and new churches of St Michael and – on a supplementary list – the wooden mosque in the village of Karići near Vareš, the mosque in the village of Ravne – Vareš, the mekteb in the village of Stupni Do, the Turbe in the village of Očevje, the smithies in Očevje and the old bridge on the river Stavnja.  There are also 24 necropolises in the municipality with 324 marble stećak tombstones in fairly good condition.

Amra Hadžimuhamedović explained that after the war, people began to make plans to erect completely new buildings on the sites of damaged or destroyed buildings.  The Government of FBiH had given orders to fence off and put up signs on the sites of every monument that had been under protection before the war and that was on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  That would have been an opportunity to record the monuments and the condition they were in, given that the Commission did not then exist as a state institution.  Following the adoption of a decision to designate a property as a national monument, the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is responsible for providing the legal, academic/scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures for the protection, conservation and presentation/display of the national monument.  Last year the Government of FBiH allocated 3,000,000 KM for the protection of monuments specified by the Commission as priorities.

Members of the Commission explained to those present the nature of the authority, modus operandi and rules of procedure of the Commission, the way in which proposals to designate properties as national monuments are submitted and the implementation of decisions.  She laid particular emphasis on the need to observe the provisions of the law whereby all monuments on the Provisional List of National Monuments of BiH enjoy the highest level of protection and whereby the Entity ministries are responsible for issuing permits for their rehabilitation.  Those present were also told of the activities of the Commission in regard to national monuments at  risk from illegal construction, inexpert reconstruction, lack of maintenance or other forms of destruction or dilapidation, and were informed that pursuant to the Criminal Code, such actions or omissions may be the subject of criminal charges.  They were also informed about the principle of transparency which guides the work of the Commission, and about the way the decisions and other acts of the Commission are published.

The method and forms of cooperation were set out in detail.  Municipal representatives confirmed that they would cooperate with the Commission members and Secretariat as required by the law.  It was confirmed that the Commission Secretariat qualified staff members would be able, when preparing the documentation required to adopt a decision to designate properties as national monuments, to acquire all the necessary information from the municipal cadastral records, land registry, archives and regional planning documentation.  The municipal authorities will also provide Commission staff members and associates with assistance when inspecting the sites of monuments, and when identifying possible additional sources of information on the properties in question.

All decisions adopted by the Commission will be forwarded to the municipal courts, which will check the land registry for charges against the plots relating to the Commission's decisions, after which the municipal courts will forward the necessary data to the municipal cadastral office so that information on the protection regime may be entered on the cadastral plan for each individual cadastral plot.  Regulation plans and other regional planning documentation are inapplicable to the extent that they contravene the provisions of the Commission's decisions, which are final and binding.

It was made clear that the Commission adopts its decisions to designate properties pursuant to its jurisdiction, and that it has no funds available for the reconstruction of national monuments, but that it may approach the relevant state and entity institutions with a recommendation that funds be allocated for the protection of the monuments at greatest risk, and may also approach foreign donors.

The Commission is also responsible for international cooperation in the field of cultural heritage protection, ranging from cooperation with Interpol for properties illicitly exported from the country to proposing monuments for inclusion on the World Heritage List or the WMF World Monuments Watch List of the 100 most endangered properties and drafting and implementing international conventions and treaties.

It was noted that Vareš municipality has not yet submitted a single petition to designate a property in the municipality as a national monument.  The Provisional list of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina includes the mediaeval royal town of Bobovac, St Michael's Church and the new church of St Michael the Archangel (Catholic) in  Vareš municipality.

Dubravko Lovrenović noted that a group of people from Vareš had decided to found a Society for the Protection of Cultural Monuments in the same way as had been done in Jajce, which would be helpful at the local level.

Pavao Vidović said that the Vareš municipal Commission for the preservation of the cultural heritage had been founded a few months earlier and hoped for good results and cooperation between the two Commissions.  He noted that the municipal Commission was responsible for submitting petitions for properties to be protected as part of the historical heritage.  He mentioned that the blast furnaces, the most valuable items of the Vareš iron and steel works, had been reduced to scrap metal 7 or 8 years ago.  The Vareš blast furnaces began working in 1891 and were the first blast furnaces in the Balkans.  The municipal Commission would try to protect at least part of the complex, along with other movable and real property, above all the necropolises with stećak tombstones.

Muhamed Ćemalović said that some 50 years ago there had been an initiative to set up a Museum of Mining and Metallurgy in Vareš, and that this was an idea that should be revived.

Rusmir Berberović said that the 800th anniversary of Kulin Ban's rule was being marked in Zenica-Doboj canton, and that plans were under way to set up commemorative plaques on four sites. The first had been set up in Zenica, followed by those in Kraljeva Sutjeska and Arnautovići near Visoko, and in March it was planned to set up a commemorative plaque in Vareš.

The conversion of two private houses in Matijevići was under way.  Funds for the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of  Culture and  Sport had been provided by the Government of the Republic of Croatia to assist in the project.  The social services department of Vareš municipality was responsible for initiating the procedure to set up the Society for the protection of cultural monuments of Vareš.

Prior to the meeting, a visit was made to the basilica in Breza and the basilica in Dabravine.  Following the meeting a visit was made to the old and new churches of St Michael, the Orthodox church and traditional residential buildings of Vareš.  Members of the Secretariat visited the rural ensemble of Očevje.


SESSION DAY 5 (10.12.2003.)

The meeting in Visoko municipality was held on 10 December 2003 at 11.30.  It was attended by Commission members and staff and by Faruk Salčinović, mayor; Fehim Memić, assistant to the mayor for social services; Mugdim Ćosović, assistant to the mayor  for regional planning and municipal services; Hasan Vajzović, manager of the regional planning department; Dževad Plakić, head of cadastre; and Senad Hodović, director of the Visoko Regional Museum.

Faruk Salčinović made some introductory remarks about  Visoko municipality, institutions of particular significance, educational and cultural institutions, industry, sports associations and so on.


Ljiljana Ševo explained that the following properties in Visoko municipality are on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina: the Alaudin (Šadrvanska) mosque, St Procopius church, the Naqshbandi mosque, Visoki old fort, the Tabačka mosque, the monastery in Arnautovići and the mediaeval site of Mile (Arnautovići), the coronation and sepulchral church of the Bosnian kings.  The Commission had adopted a decision to designate the mediaeval site of Mile and the Tabačka mosque as national monuments in Visoko municipality.

Amra Hadžimuhamedović noted that the owners of the Tabačka mosque had not had the support of the relevant institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and that this had resulted in inappropriate interventions that had led to damage to the building, but that agreement had been reached to do everything necessary to undertake future interventions as soon as possible and prevent the mosque from deteriorating further.  The Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina would be requested to make the funds transferred to the Federal Minister of Culture and Sport available as soon as possible and to ensure that the owner of the property undertook no further interventions without consulting experts.  In the majority of cases when the relevant institutions have not provided assistance, the Commission has provided advice and drawn up guidelines on how to preserve a given property (the cases of the mosque in Lizoperci, the Azizija mosque in Brezovo Polje, the monastery of the Holy Trinity in Vozuća, the church in Klepci etc.).

It is very important that the municipality's budget include an item for heritage protection, which would pave the way for funds to be raised from other sources.  In addition, some municipalities are setting up societies for the protection of the cultural heritage (Jajce, Vareš, Mrkonjić Grad) which are very effective in raising public awareness and in fund raising.

Zeynep Ahunbay expressed the hope that the municipality would take steps to ensure that the access to the very important monument of the old fort was improved.

Senad Hodović noted that the Visoko Regional Museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.  He was of the view that the previous complement of the Commission had failed to include several very important sites in Visoko municipality on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  He drew attention to three of these: the Visoki old fort (which is older than Kraljeva Sutjeska, but no archaeological excavations have ever been conducted apart from a few test probes), Moštre (where ban Stjepan II's charter to baron Vukosav Kovačević was written in 1326, King Tvrtko I's charter to Hrvoje Vukčević Hrvatinić in 1830, and Queen Jelena's letter to Dubrovnik in 1397.  These documents have survived, and are in the archives in Dubrovnik.  Moštre had one of the first universities in Europe.  The Archaeological Institute of Germany, in association with the National Museum in Sarajevo, had conducted five test archaeological probes in 2002 at Okolište and discovered incontrovertible evidence that the site has been inhabited without a break for more than 5,000 years.  Magnetic resonance tests in 2003 revealed that there is an entire town/fort at a depth of just 1.5 m, which corroborates claims of the importance of Moštre), and Čajan grad (a plaque of treasurer Nespina, keeper of the seals in the  Ban's court, and  a plaque of Kulin Ban were found here). He noted that the social context of Mile in Arnautovići is being lost, as is its importance, although it was the place where the Bosnian kings were crowned and buried, as well as the site of the Bosnian parliament.

This year Visoko, Zenica, Vareš and Kakanj municipalities are jointly celebrating the 800th anniversary of Kulin Ban's rule, and plan to set up a commemorative plaque, but no decision as to where it should be place has yet been made.  It was also noted that a project was under way to relocate the road to Mile.

Fehim Memić referred to the problem of certain institutions acting outside the institutional system, citing the case of the Tabačka mosque and the funds approved for its protection but not yet made available, although the municipality has procured the necessary documentation and approvals.  It is much the same with Mile, where the sum of 50,000 KM was transferred to the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of  Culture and  Sport in 1998 for the restoration of the site once the the road has been relocated, which has not yet happened.

Amra Hadžimuhamedović told those present of the conclusions of the meeting held on 23 September 2003 with the Federal Minister of Culture and Sport and the Federal Minister of  Regional Planning and the Environment. She said that last year the Government of the Federation, in line with its obligations deriving from the Peace Accord, had allocated 3,000,000 KM for the implementation of Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  This was expected to double next year, with allocations made according to priority, and funds would be implemented for properties designated as national monuments.  The Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of  Culture and  Sport had acted unlawfully in inviting tenders for 10 buildings for which approval for rehabilitation had not been obtained from the Federal Ministry of Regional Planning and the Environment nor had the criteria for the selection of contractors been determined, the bids were opened without all the bidders and the owner of the buildings being present.  As a result of their unfortunate experience with the implementation of funds and lack of transparency in the expenditure of funds via the Institute, the Zahum-Herzegovina Eparchy had refused to accept FBiH Government funds for the Žitomislići monastery, as had the Majlis of the Islamic Community of Stolac for the Uzinovićka mosque in Stolac.

Mugdim Ćosović mentioned that in May 1997 a decision was adopted to draft an outline project for the protection of the old fort of Visoki in association with the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of  Culture and  Sport.  That year, too, a decision was adopted to repair and conserve the old shahid's burial ground in Lovrica near Hotinci.  In December 2001 a decision was adopted to accept the project for the protection and making good of the archaeological site of Mile in Arnautovići in association with the Visoko Regional Museum. In 1999 a decision had been adopted to accept the project to renovate the ensemble of the Kraljevac mosque in Visoko.  As a result, in Visoko municipality archaeological sites are always taken into account in decisions relating to regional planning.  In addition, the social services department had submitted a study on the repair of the Tabačka mosque to the  Federal Ministry of Regional Planning and the Environment for approval, but had not yet received a response.  He was of the view that there should be increased cooperation between the municipality and the Regional Museum in regard to the future protection of major sites.

Faruk Salčinović said that about 70,000 KM had been approved for the relocation of the road that runs through the centre of the archaeological site at Mile, but this had not yet been resolved although the funds had been allocated to the Federal Roads Directorate.  The 2003 budget had included the protection of the Tabačka mosque, but nothing had been done.

Before the meeting a visit was made to the archaeological site of Mile in Arnautovići the Tabačka Tabhanska mosque, the old fort  of Visoki and the  Franciscan monastery.  After the meeting visits were made to the Visoko Regional Museum, the mosque in Kraljevac, the White Mosque and the Orthodox church.


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