Press conference following the 7th session
A press conference was held in the International Press Centre in Banja Luka beginning at 12.00.
Dubravko Lovrenović, Chairman of the Commission, notified journalists of the conclusions of the Commission
Eleven decisions were adopted to designate the following properties as national monuments:
· The site and remains of the architectural ensemble of the Hamidija mosque (mosque in Rijeka, Riječka mosque, Ričke mosque) in Mrkonjić Grad, RS
· The site and remains of the architectural ensemble of the Čaršija mosque in Prijedor, RS
· The historic monument of St Clement's Church in Mostaći, Trebinje municipality, RS
· The architectural ensemble of the Đulhanumina house in Stolac, FBiH
· The architectural ensemble of Ozren monastery with frescoes in Petrovo, RS
· The archaeological site of the ruins of a monastery with churches of St Peter and St Paul in Čičevo, Trebinje municipality, RS
· The architectural ensemble of the Church of the Holy Archangel and stećak necropolis in Veličani, Trebinje municipality, RS
· The architectural ensemble of the Zavala Monastery, Ravno municipality, FBiH
· The architectural ensemble of the mediaeval fort of Mičevac, in Trebinje, RS
· The site and remains of the historic monument of the church of St George in Gomiljani, Trebinje municipality, RS
· The historic monument of the Old or Hafizadića drinking fountain in Jajce, FBiH
He also noted that at its last session the Commission had proposed three monuments for international donations (the Mehmed-paša Sokolović bridge in Višegrad, the Old Fort in Stolac and the fortress in Jajce). As regards the Mehmed-paša Sokolović bridge, initial funding had been sought from the Entity governments and the Council of Ministers of BiH. The Government of the Federation of BiH would probably give a favourable answer to this application by the Commission, since the mood was now that it was essential to allocate funds for the protection of monuments and in this year's budget of the Federation of BIH funds of more than 3,000,000.- KM have been approved.
He noted that the Commission has received a great many petitions, which has called into question the ability to resolve them within the legally prescribed limit of one year. The Commission will attempt to resolve the issue at its next session.
He notified journalists of the problem of the lack of funds for the operations of the Commission as provided for in the budget of the institutions of BiH for 2003, which projected the same sum as in 2002 when the Commission did not yet have a Secretariat. The Commission had submitted an application for a review of the budget, which should be approved by the Council of Ministers of BiH.
He said that the Presidency of BiH supported the work of the Commission, had accepted the Report on the Commission's operations for 2002 and called for it to step up its activities for the preservation of national monuments, and had recommended to Entity and cantonal authorities and institutions that they cooperate with the Commission.
Ljiljana Ševo told the media about the archaeological investigations on the site of the Atik mosque in Bijeljina, being conducted by seven eminent archaeologists. On completion of the investigations the findings will be presented in appropriate fashion. However, pursuant to the Law on the Implementation of Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, the rehabilitation of monuments destroyed during the war cannot be called into question by archaeological findings.
Amra Hadžimuhamedović said that the Commission to Preserve National Monuments is a state institution at the highest level, responsible for the preservation of the heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Good results in preserving the heritage can be achieved only with the full coordination and cooperation of all governmental authorities and institutions responsible for the implementation of the Commission's decisions and other institutions responsible for the preservation of the cultural and historical heritage, as well as the institutions with jurisdiction over the enforcement of the Criminal Code.
Media representatives were notified of the results of the meetings of the Commission with the Cantonal Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Sarajevo and with representatives of the municipalities of Tešanj and Banja Luka. Two points from these meetings were particularly highlighted, relating to the collection of icons from Tešanj and the convent of the Sisters of Mercy in Banja Luka.
Amra Hadžimuhamedović told those present that during the eighth session of the Commission, to be held from 5 to 12 May, the first year of the Commission's operations would be celebrated and that on that occasion the results of its work so far would be summarized and presented.
Members of the Commission responded to questions from journalists relating to the Provisional List and its extension, funds donated to the Commission by the relevant authorities for its work to date, the funds needed for the Commission's operations this year, planned visits to monuments, work so far on the preservation of cultural monuments, the reconstruction of the Atik mosque on the site of the graveyard, respect for national relations when adopting decisions, archaeological investigations on the site of the Ferhadija mosque, and priority monuments.
The Chairman said that the Commission did not have the funds to direct to specific projects, but that its work would certainly be far more effective if it had available to it funds for the reconstruction, revitalization, rehabilitation and conservation of certain movable and immovable items and properties.
Amra Hadžimuhamedović acquainted journalists with the visits made so far by the Commission in its present complement (the municipalities of Mostar South, Stolac, Čapljina, Ljubinje, Trebinje, Jajce, Ravno, Tešanj and Banja Luka) and the visits planned up to the end of the year, as well as with the activities of the Secretariat of the Commission in drafting decisions (conducting a detailed inspection of all available documentation, the condition of each property, regional planning documentation; and the fact that each decision includes a full account of the property and is also based on an on-site inspection of the condition of the property).
Ljiljana Ševo reported that BiH had a complete heritage protection service up to 1992 with the Republican Institute for the Protection of Monuments in Sarajevo, the Regional Institute in Mostar, the Municipal Institute in Tuzla, the City Institute in Sarajevo, and the Regional Institute in Banja Luka. During the war some documentation was destroyed and some was preserved. There are pre-war registers of movable and immovable cultural property which are still valid decisions if there have been no amendments. In addition, at the level of each municipality there are evaluations of the cultural, historical and natural heritage as part of regulatory, town planning and regional planning. She told journalists that since the signature of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the end of 1995, there had been changes to the legislation relating to the preservation of the cultural and historical heritage, and that pursuant to Annex 8 the Commission has jurisdiction over the preservation of the cultural and historical heritage at the State level.
Media representatives were also acquainted with the work of the Commission in its previous complement, operating under the auspices of UNESCO from 1996 to 2000, particularly in regard to the Provisional List of National Monuments, which was drawn up on the basis of pre-war documentation, with amendments following inspection of the condition of the properties. She said that the Provisional List had not been drawn up methodologically in compliance with the provisions of Annex 8, according to which only the adoption of decisions pursuant to petitions is valid.
Amra Hadžimuhamedović added that the issue of continuity was the most important issue, and the basis for the preservation of the cultural and historical heritage. There are two essential reasons why Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina stipulates the obligation to designate national monuments, i.e. the monuments of the greatest value in BiH. The first is that BiH had a hundred-year history of preservation of the cultural and historical heritage, but had never carried out a categorization of properties. The work of the Commission was in a way an identification of category 1 monuments, being those of the greatest significant for BiH. The second reason is that during the war in BiH there was the systematic destruction of the cultural heritage, and even the elimination of all traces of monuments of exceptional significance for the cultural memory of BiH, which has made it necessary to redefine the heritage, not only in BiH but also at the international level, as well as to redefine the approach to heritage protection. This is in a way a contribution to the theory of heritage and heritage protection world-wide, and the Commission determines with its decisions that surviving fragments of monuments are also monuments, as are the sites on which they stood prior to demolition, and that these are an integral part of the cultural memory of BiH which is essential to preserve cultural memory as a system. The entire situation with the systematic destruction of monuments is a new feature in the history of civilization, so that the contribution of the Commission is in a way a contribution to that theory.
Ljiljana Ševo repeated that the archaeological excavations on the site of the Atik mosque have not yet been completed and it is not known whether the fragments of tombstones found in the foundations of the Atik mosque are fragments from a graveyard on that site. It is more likely that they were brought from some nearby location. The Law on the Implementation of Decisions of the Commission states clearly that rehabilitation is the restoration of destroyed monuments to the condition in which they were prior to their destruction or demolition in the 1992-1996 war in the same form, on the same site, with the use of the same materials and methods wherever possible, and that this cannot be called into question or challenged.
Amra Hadžimuhamedović said that the Ferhadija mosque was one of the most important monuments of the architectural heritage in the Balkans and that it was destroyed in the recent past. Its form and site and those who identify with that form and site are still present. Pursuant to the legislation in force, archaeological investigations are not a precondition for the rehabilitation of a monument. If during the rehabilitation of a destroyed monument some remains from an earlier period are found, these remains will be recorded and displayed in the best possible way to the extent that this will not jeopardize the reconstruction of the destroyed building. There is no building of great religious significance anywhere in the world that has not been built on a site of deep and lasting religious significance, which is evidence of the continuity of history.