Press conference following the 17th session was held on 8th November 2004.
Amra Hadžimuhamedović notified the journalists of the resolutions passed by the Commission
Nine Decisions were issued on proclamation of the following properties National Monuments:
- Archaeological site of the Tašlihan in Sarajevo
- Historic site of the Old fort of Srebrenik in Srebrenik
- Historic site of the Old fort of Gradačac with Gradaščevića tower in Gradačac
- Archaeological site of the Gradac at Ilinjača in Gornji Kotorac in Sarajevo
- Architectural ensemble of the Čekrekčijina mosque in Sarajevo
- Architectural ensemble of the Careva (Emperor’s) mosque in Sarajevo
- Architectural ensemble of the Husejnija mosque in Gradačac
- Architectural ensemble of the Ferhadija mosque in Sarajevo
- Residential architectural ensemble of the Svrzina house ensemble in Sarajevo
She pointed out that the Commission adopted only 9 decisions to designate properties as national monuments, although the Secretariat had prepared 20 decisions for the adoption procedure, and due to formal obstructions, it was not possible to translate all the decisions into the English language. Notwithstanding the fact that the number of adopted decisions per session is the smallest in this year, the Commission is satisfied with the results, and expects the problems to be solved by the next session.
The Commission’s visit to the Municipalities as a part of the 17th session proved notable endangerment of the heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina, endangerment happening quotidianly and with diverse causes, but on the other hand it proved raising awareness in the public at large of the significance of the cultural and historical heritage and the possibility of its integration into the development. What encourages is the fact that all municipalities are apt to earmark their budgetary resources for implementation of Annex 8; the resources to be allocated for protection of the cultural and historical heritage and incorporation of the cultural and historical heritage into the development plans. She stressed the important role of Jasmin Imamović, the Municipality of Tuzla Mayor, who started the activities with the aim to build the city of Tuzla as a city based on historical facts and its historical continuity. Gradačac as well has a strong organization and the attempt to accept the cultural and historical heritage as a local development resource. Unfortunately, there is considerable lack of experts and knowledge, being the result of the war and post-war demolition, as well as of the emigration of young intellectuals. However, the answer to this was found in cooperation and assistance to be granted by the Commission. What was very important was the visit to the Brčko District, the meeting with the Mayor and all his associates, and the significant meeting with Susan Johnson, the Brčko District Supervisor.
The Commission’s exhibit “Cultural Memory – a Vanishing Treasury”, arriving directly from Barcelona, was opened in Brčko. Multimedia presentations of the endangered heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the exhibition «Cultural memory - a Vanishing Treasury » were to-date held in the «Konak» residence in Sarajevo, Syracuse, within the festival «Sarajevo-Sarajevo Winter» in Sarajevo, the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington, in Banja Luka, Jajce, Mostar, Bužim, and within the World Urban Forum in Barcelona. After Brčko, the exhibit would be displayed in Tuzla, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of signing of the European Heritage Convention in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Office of the Brčko District Mayor and the Office of the High Representative in Brčko informed that Annex 8 was being implemented in four cases, for which significant budgetary funds were allocated by the Brčko District. The budget for the following year plans several millions to be allocated for implementation of Annex 8 in Brčko. Outline cooperation between the Commission and the Brčko District was agreed, so that the Commission should directly implement its decisions in Brčko in the immediate future, possibly by the means of establishing of a detached department within the Commission, the budget for operation of which would be primarily earmarked from the Brčko District budget. Such a possibility spoke above all on the readiness of the responsible persons in Brčko to comprehend that the time had come for Brčko to strengthen its roots and preserve Brčko as a city, after the extensive economic development.
At the end of October, the meeting of the Steering Committee of the Council of Europe for the Heritage (CD PAT) was held, comprising of the delegates from the all member countries. The Steering Committee discussed on the closure of the National Museum in Sarajevo for the public. Immediately prior to the press conference the Commission received the notification from the general spokesman on the cultural heritage of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, that on 02 December 2004 a Sub-Committee on the Cultural Heritage of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe would be in session in Paris, and discuss on the fact that one institution in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is a member of the Council of Europe, the institution, which is eminently European and exists for over than 100 years, was in the situation that its doors be closed today for the public, and tomorrow maybe forever. The Council of Europe would do all to eliminate such an un-European situation, which among other things represented endangerment to the human right to transparency. The Commission expects to be able to bring about that the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina act as per the policy of the Council of Europe and the international institutions, whose member Bosnia and Herzegovina is.
Dubravko Lovrenović informed the press on the procedure of adoption of the draft law for preservation of the cultural heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Programme Coordinators participated in the international seminar “Legislative Reform in the Field of Cultural Heritage in South-East Europe”, which was held in Sofia from 07 to 10 October 2004. The total of 8 themes was discussed, and the Commission’s representative gave his presentation, with the subject: «Institutional reform and the new role of the private sector (owners and entrepreneurs) and their professional advisers in Bosnia and Herzegovina». The Seminar showed the Bosnia and Herzegovina’s falling behind in the field, notwithstanding the fact it was a specific case. He thought that the adoption of the Law was a matter of urgency for Bosnia and Herzegovina, not only because of the catastrophic site conditions regarding the cultural heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but because of creation of civilization climate in the society of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which would not be possible without the law and its implementation. He pointed out that the working group and the Commission proposed certain alternatives, while discussing the Law. The alternatives were the matter of competencies, namely the right and responsibilities in certain cases, which were the result of the current condition of Bosnia and Herzegovina, being in a deep institutional and legislative crisis.
He deems the decision of the Commission to start the Annual a very important one. A great quantity of material has been gathered by now, and the publishing of the first issue of the Annual may be expected in a reasonable time. That would represent the continuity of tradition, existing in Bosnia and Herzegovina from the time of publishing of the first issues of “The National Museum Gazette” and the magazine “Our Antiques”.
He pointed out that the decision to designate the Old Fort of Stolac as a national monument was explicit regarding the prohibition of all illicit works at the area of the protected monument. Nevertheless, the cross was erected, and the bases for the Way of the Cross, which caused the law to be clashed, and the religious symbols to lose their authentic value. This case, and similar ones, would make a test for commitment and implementation of the new Law on Protection of the Cultural Heritage at the Bosnia and Herzegovina State level. The Commission would try to solve the situations in discussions with the Federation of BaH Minister of Spatial Planning and Environment.
Amra Hadžimuhamedović said that the Commission had received 1045 petitions for designation of properties as national monuments by now. Besides, there is the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina comprising 777 properties, some of which were designated as national monuments. In the period following the 16th session, the Commission received 17 new petitions. The List of Endangered Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina, composed by the Commission, numbers 36 properties. The Commission resolved to take all necessary steps to have had the works started for the properties from the Priorities List, which would prevent their total decay. In the draft budget for 2005, the Commission requested a budgetary item for protection of endangered heritage from the Commission’s List of the Heritage at Risk.
Ms. Hadžimuhamedović informed that the members of the Commission had a meeting with Mr. Werner Wnendt, deputy High Representative, that day. The members of the Commission informed Werner Wnendt on the Commission’s work and its future strategies, including drawing up of the Law and extending of the Commission’s authorities, as well as on the request by the Commission for the budget at the state level to be established, intended for implementation of the Commission’s decisions. The Commission expects that the forthcoming period and the cooperation with the OHR would bring the issues into the legal frame ensuring implementation of Annex 8, as a part of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Mirela Mulalić Handan informed that the Integrated Project for Rehabilitation of Heritage, organized by the Commission in cooperation with the Council of Europe, was launched into its operative phase. This project makes one out of three components of the Regional Programme for Protection of the Heritage in South-East Europe. The Council of Europe had appointed an expert to prepare, in collaboration with the Commission’s members and staff, the Preliminary Technical Assessment for 20 national monuments from the project’s Prioritized List. The first project to be prepared within the Prioritized Intervention List was the Mehmed-pasha Sokolović bridge in Višegrad, which is one of the most endangered monuments, and for which the Commission started the international donation campaign for protection, including the Old Fort of Stolac and the Jajce fortress. Pedro Ponce de Leon, expert of the Council of Europe, would come the following day to visit the Commission, and would participate in preparation of the Preliminary Technical Assessment of the condition of the Mehmed-pasha Sokolović bridge in Višegrad, together with the members of the Commission. On 12 November 2004, the workshop was scheduled in Višegrad, and the Preliminary Technical Assessment of the condition of the bridge would be helpful for drawing up of more quality documentation for nomination of the bridge for the World Monument Watch List of 100 the most endangered monuments of the world.