Press conference following the 13th session was held on 8th March 2004.
Ljiljana Ševo, the Chair of the Commission, informed the press on the Commission’s conclusions.
Ten Decisions were issued on proclamation of the following properties National Monuments:
Ÿ Architectural Ensemble – Mehmed-pasha Kukavica Mosque and Medresa (Moslem religious secondary schools) in Foča/Srbinje, RS;
Ÿ Archaeological Area – Dravine, with remains from the Bronze Age and Late Classical Period, the Municipality of Vareš, FBiH;
Ÿ Historical Area – Necropolis with stećci (old Bosnian tombstones), Rajkov Kamen in Mijatovci, the Municipality of Nevesinje, RS;
Ÿ Historical Area – Necropolis with stećci Kalufi, the Municipality of Nevesinje, RS;
Ÿ Historical Area – Old Town of Visoko, the Municipality of Visoko, FBiH;
Ÿ Architectural Ensemble – Sarač's House, the Finances Building (Lower Vocational School) and old Elementary School (Lower Musical School) in Jajce, FBiH;
Ÿ Historical Structure – Kršlakova – Kapetanovića's House in Jajce, FBiH;
Ÿ Architectural Ensemble – St Prokopije Church in Visoko, the Municipality of Visoko, FBiH;
Ÿ Architectural Ensemble – Log Church dedicated to St Nicholas in Romanovci, the Municipality of (Bosnian) Gradiška, RS;
Ÿ Historical Area – Kobaške Harem or Hudar Effendi Mosque in (Bosnian) Kobaš, the Municipality of Srbac, RS.
She informed the press about opening of the exhibition “Cultural Memory-Disappearing Property” on 18.02.2004. in the “Dom Policije”. The exhibition was opened by a member of the Presidency of BiH, Sulejman Tihić. National monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina were presented on 105 panels, with a particular focus on endangered monuments. This exhibition is a continuation of the campaign initiated by the Commission in May 2003, in its efforts to raise public awareness about the protection of heritage in all segments of society. The exhibition is a result of two year work of the Commission and staff in the Secretariat and in addition to Sarajevo, it was displayed in Sicily and at the World Bank HQ in Washington. This particular exhibition is enhanced with panels pertinent to the decisions adopted from May 2003 to February 2004. New panels were prepared in cooperation with the International Centre for Peace and it was one of events of the international festival “Sarajevo - Sarajevo Winter”.
In the scope of 13th session, a round table was organised in the lobby of the “Dom Policije”. Participants to the round table included representatives of relevant authorities, university, institutions in charge of the protection of cultural heritage, Institutes and Museums, who strive to find best possible modes of implementing Annex 8 and protecting national monuments, as in relation to legally prescribed responsibilities of relevant authorities, so in respect of institutional strengthening, defining problems and seeking methods to resolve them. Most important part of the discussion focused on the interconnection of all levels of authority, expert teams, and the need to provide adequate training in the field of old crafts.
At the 37th session of the Presidency of BiH, following a debate of the information provided by the Commission pertinent to Vozuća Monastery being at great risk, it was resolved that a support be given to the Commission’s activities and that the Commission provided a priority list of endangered monuments for the Presidency to support their protection and that the Presidency recommended to the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina to forecast allocation of some funds for the protection of cultural heritage in the budget of institutions of BiH for 2004.
At the 38th session of the Presidency of BiH, a Report on the Financial Operation of the Commission in 2003 was adopted, and the Presidency, in cooperation with the Commission, would find some additional funds for the protection of properties at greatest risk in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in compliance with priorities set by the Commission.
The Commission concluded to establish a cooperation with the Project “Mostar 2004”. The programme will be implemented during July 2004. prior the official opening ceremony of the Old Bridge in Mostar. On July 13th, 2004, a round table “Authentic Bosnia and Herzegovina” will be held, and the Commission will provide guidelines on important centres of cultural heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina that are to be visited in order to determine on the spot most appropriate methods of protection. In July 2004, the Government of the Republic of Italy and UNESCO will organise a regional conference on heritage and the Commission will attend.
The Commission’s 14th session will be held in Banja Luka, and at the end of 13th session, the Chair will be taken over by Dubravko Lovrenović.
Dubravko Lovrenović informed that Robert Pickard, a Council of Europe expert, held meetings in Sarajevo on 17th and 18th February 2004, to discuss institutional strengthening and drafting a new state Law on the Protection of Heritage. During the meetings, a methodology and approach in drafting a new legal framework were debated, since it is a responsibility of Bosnia of Herzegovina after being accepted in the Council of Europe and a priority activity of the Commission that will be a bearer of this activity. It was agreed that an expert group be created with two representatives of the Federation of BiH and Republika Srpska and one representative of the Brčko District, Ministry of Civil Affairs and one or two NGO representatives. A constituent assembly of the working group is scheduled for end March this year. Draft Law should be completed some time around September and forwarded to the parliamentary procedure by the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The new Law shall specify responsibilities of all institutions engaged in the process of protection and revitalisation of cultural heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and binding allocation of funds for this purpose. There are 156 municipalities in BiH, representing a significant economic potential, however, only a minor part of them allocates funds for the protection of heritage, even though there funds available in their budgets.
The State Commission on Cooperation with UNESCO adopted the Project on Mehmed-paša Sokolović Bridge in Višegrad, so the Commission submitted an application for that project to the UNESCO’s competition, i.e. asked for funds to prepare project documentation for this bridge.
Zeynep Ahunbay informed those present that Neum, Ljubuški and Čitluk municipalities, visited by the Commission in the scope of the 13th Commission’s session, currently were not in a position to give a more significant contribution to the protection of cultural and natural properties, but the situation was expected to improve. There is an NGO in Hutovo that deals with the protection of heritage and they assembled a collection of ethnologic material that is exhibited in a small museum. The area is abundant in necropolis of stećak tombstones and there is also the Hajjibey Rizvanbegović Fort there, that was cleared by members of the NGO. More attention should be attributed to this affluent heritage and it would be useful to integrate cultural heritage and tourism, i.e. find modalities to arrange tourists visits to these areas. The Commission visited the Fort in Ljubuški, the area was found to be very impressive, but dangerous at the same time. Big towers are at threat to collapse and archaeological research of the Old town is needed. Returnees to the Old town restore mosques in an inappropriate manner, therefore an expert assistance should be provided as it is important for cultural heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The area of Kravice waterfall is also an impressive natural landscape, with a very interesting string of water mills that could be included on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. A proposal was given to the municipality to initiate publishing a brochure on the history of this area, which could trigger the public attention and help to preserve this area.
Amra Hadžimuhamedović informed that the Commission, in the course of its two year work, intensive cooperation with the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, international community present in BiH, numerous initiatives at regional and international level and participation to various international projects, concluded that this stage of implementation of Annex 8 required funds for urgent intervention to protect endangered heritage at the state level, and pursuant to the Commission’s decisions. After consultations with all mentioned parties, such proposal was submitted for the 2004 budget forecast. Unfortunately, currently available information say that the Council of Ministers, in the course of adopting the budget, decided to adopt the amount similar to that in the previous year, meaning that the budget item pertinent to the implementation of the Commission’s decisions was not supported by the Council of Ministers, notwithstanding the conclusion of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina that supported such activities and requests made by the Commission. In view of that fact, the cooperation the Commission accomplishes with all regional initiatives and campaigns at bilateral, regional and international level, is of vital importance to secure funds for the protection of heritage. Key project of that kind, currently ongoing, is in the scope of a regional programme on the protection of cultural and natural heritage in the South East Europe. The Programme, implemented by the Council of Europe and its Component B: ”Rehabilitation Project of Architectural and Archaeological Heritage in South East Europe”, is in its early third stage. On the grounds of the Council of Europe’s methodology and in cooperation with experts of the Council of Europe, following months long work, members of the Commission set up a priority list that is to be used as a basis to request funds from the European Union to protect heritage. The cooperation was established after an appeal made by Romano Prody at the beginning of his chairmanship of the European Union. Next stage in the project development is a technical assessment of the condition of properties on the priority intervention list (20 projects). First phase will comprise development of methodology and questionnaires, and assistance will be provided to Bosnia and Herzegovina for the technical assessment. The technical assessment will be considered as a kind of pre-feasibility study that is accepted by the Council of Europe’s Development Bank and EBRD as relevant documentation when applying for grants and loans for the protection of heritage. During a recent visit to the Council of Europe, at a meeting held with a new director for cultural and natural heritage, Gabriela Battani and at meetings that Mirela Mulalić Handan held with members of the Council of Europe’s Development Bank, it was indicated that the Bank could provide a grant for the Town Hall in Sarajevo and for properties at greatest risk, as per the Commission’s proposal. To achieve that goal, numerous preliminary activities have to be carried out and some level of agreement reached between decision makers is required. The Commission to Preserve National Monuments, being a coordinator in drafting the state Law on the Protection of Cultural Heritage, believes that this is a best moment for such an effort to be made, which could mark a turning-point in the area of the protection of cultural heritage, taking into account that a new umbrella convention on the protection of the European cultural heritage is being drafted in the Council of Europe, that will include new definition of heritage and methods of its protection. In the course of drafting our law and the Council of Europe’s Convention, these definitions may be anticipated in the legislation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which would help Bosnia and Herzegovina to overcome a huge gap between our country and other countries that have a completely developed and systematic approach to the protection of heritage.
Second Round Table will be organised in Portorož in late March, in the scope of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative, primarily about the protection of archaeological heritage. One of the outcomes of the Round Table would be to define new modalities in assessing the impact of all aspects of everyday life on cultural heritage. This is a new approach to the protection of heritage, since heritage is put in focus when addressing development issues, which would be of utmost importance for drafting the new Law in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Members of the Commission answered to questions journalists asked about budget funds earmarked for the implementation of Annex 8 and the protection of cultural heritage (the budget has not yet been adopted in the Federation of BiH, but an amount of 2,000.000 KM is expected, whereas the budget of Republika Srpska foresees 500,000 KM and the Brčko District 1,000.000 KM); if the new Law would anticipate establishment of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage at the state level, or a common data base (such a data base exists in the Commission and is updated on a daily basis. What is important at this moment is to define all areas that the future Law will prescribe and a new approach to funding all activities pertinent to the protection of cultural heritage. The new Law should be binding in respect of allocation of funds for this activity at all 5 levels of authority, which would secure considerable annual financial resources), mode of adopting decisions to designate properties as national monuments (all 777 properties on the Provisional List enjoy a status of national monuments and the Commission is responsible to adopt individual decisions for every property, as under the Law, but will not be time limited. Another mode would be to file a petition to designate certain property as national monument, on which grounds the Secretariat would collect necessary documents, prepare proposal and evaluate the property in reference, and the Commission adopts decisions at its sessions. In the event that a property was recorded as a cultural-historical heritage before the war, pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Cultural-Historical Heritage of SR BiH, such a property still enjoys a status of protected monument and measures of protection thereby specified. The Commission received more than 1000 petitions, but is limited in funds and unable to strengthen professional structure of the Secretariat to be able to respond to requests within a year. The Commission expects to get some support from relevant authorities which would permit fulfilling legal requirements. From the date a petition to designate a property as a national monument is submitted, the property enjoys the highest level of protection within a period of one year, or until the Commission adopts a decision; the relevant entity Ministry is in charge of issuing an approval).