Press conference following the 16th session
Ljiljana Ševo notified journalists of the resolutions passed by the Commission.
She noted that the Commission had been exceptionally active in the field of harmonisation of the current, and passing of new enactments regulating internal operations of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments. After the 15th session, the Commission received the Report by the Office for audit of financial operations of the institutions of B&H, certifying that the audit had not found out any unintended and illicit expenditure of public means. The remarks were mostly related to the procedure issues, namely, to the need of harmonization of the current and passing of new internal enactments of the Commission regulating consumption of public funds, and which would be harmonized with the current laws.
She informed that out of 11 decisions to designate the properties as national monuments, six were adopted for the monuments from the Sarajevo Canton region:
- Movable property of the Museum Collection and Library holdings of the Franciscan monastery of the Holy Ghost in Fojnica, FBiH
- Historic site of the remains of a pre-Romanesque church and mediaeval burial ground in Crkvina near the village of Vrutci, FBiH
- Archaeological site of the Roman remains at Ilidža near Sarajevo, FBiH
- Historic site of the Old Fort in Kreševo, FBiH
- Archaeological site – pre-historic settlement in Butmir, Ilidža municipality, Sarajevo, FBiH
- Burial ground ensemble of the Jewish cemetery in Mostar, FBiH
- Burial ground ensemble of the Jewish cemetery in Sarajevo, FBiH
- Historic monument - Kozija ćuprija («Goat Bridge») in Sarajevo, FBiH
- Architectural ensemble of the Catholic church of St Joseph in Pale, RS
- Historic building of the Ceković house in Pale, RS
- Historic building of the Latinska ćuprija (Latin bridge) in Sarajevo, FBiH
She pointed out that the decisions on designation as national monuments were adopted for two buildings, which in the previous regime assumed a status of the cultural and historical heritage. Those properties are: the Latin bridge in Sarajevo, which was recently restorated in accordance with the latest methods, and the Kozja ćuprija (bridge) in Sarajevo. Upon completed restoration works on the Kozja ćuprija, the traffic of motor vehicles over the bridge was prohibited, but the rule was not abided by, resulting in endangerment of this utmost important monument, so that, in its Decision, the Commission emphasized the importance of honouring the prohibition and intensifying the sanction measures in the case of disobedience. She called attention to the Decision to designate the movable property of the Museum Collection and Library holdings of the Franciscan monastery of the Holy Spirit in Fojnica as a national monument. It is a very valuable collection, of which the inventory was taken, which was described, valorised and for which the protection measures were set, all reflecting Commission’s contribution to preservation and the whole campaign of saving, primarily, old Fojnica printed and manuscript books, endangered supremely by damp.
She further notified that the Commission held the press conference within the 16th session. By means of discussion the present tried to reach new ways and improved methodology of reporting. It was resolved that the work of the media in a great number of cases contributed by constant informing of the public, both to informing of the Commission itself on present-day problems related to the national monuments and to remedying of deviant actions and procedures, which jeopardized the national monuments. At the meeting, it was agreed that the cooperation be more extensive and fertile, and of the media by becoming more determinedly and regularly involved, it could take the shape of active protection of the national monuments. What was important was that the media report on the protection of the cultural property not only immediately after the closing of the Commission’s session, but persistently and through broadcasting of special programmes, series of some sort, or even feuilleton, with the aim of education the public at large, on significance and need of protection of the cultural heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Chair of the Commission’s duties of were delegated at the session. The term of Dubravko Lovrenović’s have elapsed, and in forthcoming six months the duties of the Chair will be performed by Amra Hadžimuhamedović. Dubravko Lovrenović was not able to attend the press conference, due to his participation in the opening ceremony of the Days of the European Heritage in Barcelona, which is of an utmost importance to a wider display of Bosnia and Herzegovina heritage and the State Institution responsible for protection of the heritage.
Amra Hadžimuhamedović pointed out that in the period of Dubravko Lovrenović’s term, one of crucial proceedings was initiated, namely, drafting of legal and institutional framework for protection of heritage on the level of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The project was established within the Regional programme for cultural and natural heritage in the South-Eastern Europe, led by the European Council. Amra Hadžimuhamedović is a Programme Coordinator for Bosnia and Herzegovina, whereas Dubravko Lovrenović is a Project Coordinator for the line A (Institutional and legal strengthening). Once the Law was drawn up, the documentation centre for heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina would be designed, the institutional framework would be established, as well as the individuals educated and skilled in the field, namely, educational framework or protection of the heritage strengthened. Draft text of the Law on Protection of Heritage on the level of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been drawn up, and after the session it will be forwarded to the European Council for expert opinion and suggestions thereon. Harmonization with the European Legislation will be displayed at the Regional seminar, bearing the title: «Legislative Reform of the Cultural Heritage in the South-Eastern Europe» which will be held in Sofia, from 07 to 10 October 2004. The representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the seminar will be Amra Hadžimuhamedović, Dubravko Lovrenović and Branka Mekić. Within the same programme, namely the Regional Programme for the South-East Europe, the first phase of the Regional project for integrated rehabilitation of the cultural-historical archaeological and architectural heritage has been completed.
She pointed out the issue of the Aladža mosque located in the centre of Foča, one of the most important cultural and economical centres of the 16th century in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Balkan region. As the Commission is informed, the Aladža mosque was erected by Nezir-aga in 1550 (completed in 1551). It was destroyed in 1992, and its remains were transported from the site to formerly unknown locations. On 25 August 2004, the experts of the Commission, at the site, which was supposed to be the pit where the dead bodies of the slaughtered inhabitants of Foča had been disposed in 1992, at the depth of 7m, found the fragments, for which it was determined to belong to the Aladža (multicoloured) mosque in Foča. The fragments had been found at two locations in Foča by now. One location is 200 m to the south from the steel bridge over the river Drina. The whole area is covered with thick layer of soil, ruins and waste spreading over the area of approx. 800 m2. Only one test probe, out of which a considerable number of fragments have been taken, have been found by now; among the found fragments there are some of a high value belonging to the mihrab, as well as those which were a part of the portico, among which there are fine moulded string courses and the segments of the pillars belonging to the Aladža mosque (it is the only mosque in Foča having stone pillars in sofas). The other fragments can be perceived to be under the top soil, on the slope towards the river Drina. According to the words by the representative of the Commission for Missing Persons, a great number of fragments is covered with soil in the direction of south-southeast from the site, where the found fragments were disposed. The other location is situated 300 m to the north from the steel bridge over the river Drina, 500 m far from the first location. At this location, a great number of stone and wooden segments, belonging to the Aladža mosque was found. The fragments are at the depth of 7 m, and a several test probes have been opened by now. They are covered with a thick layer of soil, medical waste (from the near-by hospital), plastic bags and other waste. Based on the found fragments (parts of the mihrab and the entrance portico, still keeping both the colour and the sculptural decoration), the Commission’s experts found out that those are the fragments belonging to the Aladža mosque. It is astonishing that the precision and the fine work can still be distinguished and preserved on these fragments of the mosque. Notwithstanding its violent destruction, it seems as if the Aladža mosque disassembled into its integral parts. The found fragments are not broken and will be incorporated into the rehabilitated building. For one part of the fragments, presently stored in the Commission’s premises, from where they will be transferred to the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, seems as if no additional conservation be needed. Wooden parts of the mosque evidence the fire, and none of them can be reused and incorporated, but are regarded as important evidence material. Enormous number of fragments from munara, šerefe, all finely processed, is found on the same location, in the area of approx. 1000 m2. Due to the high waters of the river Drina, it was impossible to inspect all parts of the second location. In this particular case, the Commission faces a certain number of problems, pointing to the necessity of extension of the Commission’s jurisdiction. The Commission identified the parts of the destroyed monument, which is one of the most valuable monuments of such style and type in the whole Balkan and the Mediterranean region, but it is necessary to take urgent measures to reconnoitre each particular part and to provide for it. These actions need necessary equipment, labour and the place where all parts will be stored until reincorporation. The Commission has a need for a budget to be applied for urgent reaction, and it will be required by the Commission the following year within the draft budget of the Institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. After the press conference, a meeting was scheduled between the members of the Commission and the President of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the representatives from the cabinet of other members of the Presidency, with the purpose of the members of the Commission requesting support in urgent actions in regard to the protection of the fragments. The Commission relies on the Council of Ministers and the Entities’ Government to take all necessary measures, in order to provide the Commission with necessary conditions for protection and appropriate storage of the parts found in the mass grave (the Government of RS is even legally responsible). The Commission further expects that the Aladža mosque site be appropriately fenced, that the eaves be constructed for storage of selected material, and that the RS Police Department organize proper guard of the parts, each enjoying protection as a national monument, until they are reincorporated into the Aladža mosque. The most valuable fragments will be safe-kept in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Project Coordinator for a phase of the Regional project for integrated rehabilitation of cultural-historical archaeological and architectural heritage, Mirela Mulalić Handan, introduced the present to the project results. She notified that the project started in 2003, and intended completion is in 2005. Its aim is that the heritage protection and conservation process in the countries of the South-Eastern Europe reach the norms and standards in effect in the European Union. The project is divided into four phases. The first two phases have already been realized, and they are as follows: estimate of the heritage current condition and composition of the priority intervention list. Estimate of the heritage current condition gives a brief insight into the condition of the heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina, looking in the light of physical protection, heritage management, and education. The priority intervention list numbers 20 national monuments, among which there are historical buildings, architectural ensembles and the areas judged as properties of a great importance to the European heritage, and for which taking of protection measures against further decay is a matter of urgency. The second two phases are technical assessment of the condition and drafting of feasibility studies for each property from the priority intervention list. In addition, foreign investing should be realized, as well as the reinforcing of cooperation between the public and the private sector. The European Council had already published the results of the first two phases of the project, in the publication under the title: Project of Integrated Rehabilitation of Heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She stressed that the local development strategies should primarily rely on its own resources, and that the cultural and historical heritage represented one of the most important resources and potentials for development. Therefore, the European Council expects the governmental institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina to assure integration of the project into the programmes and strategies of continual development at all levels in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Tina Wik drew attention to the endangered property, namely to the jeopardized monuments presently on the List of endangered monuments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The list is being expanded every year, but at the moment it can be stated that the Commission expects that, in the following year, upon completion of the works, three monuments be deleted from the list. The first of them is Mehmed-pasha Sokolović’s bridge in Višegrad, for which the Government of the Republic of Srpska earmarked 4000 KM for underwater recording of the bridge piers by the diving club members, and earmarking of funds for further rehabilitation of the bridge is anticipated. The second building is the Handanija mosque in Prusac, for the purpose of which design documentation had been completed, and the commencement of restoration and rehabilitation works on the mosque is expected in September 2004. The Cultural Heritage without Borders has provided total funds intended for rehabilitation, and the contractor is a company from Fojnica. The third building is the Uzinovićka mosque in Stolac. Amra Hadžimuhamedović told that this mosque’s case could be in a way related to the case of rehabilitation of the Cathedral in Mostar, which was rather well displayed in the media. Tender for the rehabilitation works on the Uzinovićka mosque (it is the only mosque in Stolac not completely destroyed in 1993, its walls remained) was announced following the same procedure as for the tender for the Cathedral, which means: without participation of the property owner in the process of tendering, namely, in deciding on contracts to be concluded with the designers and the contractors. Tender was announced on the grounds of the design made in 1991, which, however, was not harmonized with the destroyed mosque condition. After the works had been awarded, the Contractor started with removing segments of the saved walls, to the action of which the owners responded and stopped the works, and requested the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to follow the relevant procedure, and to implement the funds amounting to 50000 KM, which were earmarked in the budget, in the line with the law and the positive practice. Since the Government of the Federation of B&H gave no response to the request of the association of the returnees to Stolac, referring to the need for protection of the building against further decay, and since the Government made no response to the request by the Commission to take urgent measures on the case, and act appropriately, the association of the returnees provided the funds out of its own sources and started the procedure for protection of this extremely valuable building against further decay. The building is now roofed, and the reconstruction of the munara is under way. The Commission would like to communicate its enormous gratitude to the citizens of Stolac, who recognize the paths of establishing peace and trust in this important B&H town through the rehabilitation of the heritage, who contribute with their energy and their funds to the rehabilitation of public buildings, which are important both to whole Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region, and would also like to call the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to de rigueur implement the funds still in the budget of the Government of the Federation of B&H in the case of the Cathedral in Mostar, in accordance with the law and the positive practice.
Commission’s representatives responded to the questions from the journalists referring to the works on the archaeological area – Roman remains at Ilidža near Sarajevo (the Commission adopted the decision to designate the property as a national monument, which has not been published yet. Enacting clause III regulates all protection measures, i.e. all works that might in any way jeopardize or damage the site are prohibited, and allowed are only the works on extensive investigation of the site, its conservation, display, and matching the environment. The site is intended for construction of spa, recreation, and sports complex. The Canton Institute for protection of cultural, historical, and natural heritage of Sarajevo requested the presence of the archaeologists during the excavation of the foundations. According to the Commission, such a request is deficient, considering the fact that it is the site of the extreme importance, so it is necessary to carry out preliminary archaeological excavations of the site where the building of any sort will be erected, and if the preliminary results show positive, systematic archaeological excavations are to be carried out as well. Only then the execution of the works may commence, and in the case the archaeological excavations prove the necessity, the Commission will request the amendments in the project so that it is made possible to display the findings found at the site during the execution of the works), return of the monument of Franz Ferdinand and his wife to the Latinska ćuprija (Latin bridge) in Sarajevo (Latinska ćuprija was on the Provisional list of national monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the grounds of which the Commission adopted the decision to designate the property. No petition was received for the monument to Franz Ferdinand and his wife, nor was this monument protected in any way, so that the Commission has no grounds to adopt the decision. Presently, the authority responsible for protection of the monument is the Canton Institute for protection of cultural, historical, and natural heritage of Sarajevo. In the case of submittal of the petition, the monument would enjoy interim protection, until the final decision has been adopted, and it would bind the Commission to start the passing procedure. The monument was dislocated from the Latinska ćuprija in 1918, and presently occupies the Art Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina; it had been taken the inventory of, therefore it enjoys the protection, but the only disputable matter is their original location.), 20 national monuments from the Priority intervention list (corresponding the List of endangered monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina composed by the Commission), constructed munara in the Old town of Vinac (at the 14th session the Commission adopted the Decision to designate the historical area – Old town of Vinac as a national monument. Enacting clause III of the Decision regulates protection measures, including the urgent protection measures, meaning the clearance of remains of the Old town from the weeds, protection of collapsed segments of the walls, and the similar. There was a mosque in the Old town of Vinac, which was destroyed, and which was not used in the previous century. In the middle of the former mosque location, a munara was erected, which is not used for its original purpose, and not erected for the purpose of reconstruction of the destroyed monument. Its erection is illicit and totally in opposition to the monument protection regime. The Commission resolved, and regulated it through its Decision, that it be necessary to remove illicitly erected munara structure, which was constructed in the shape and stands in the place where it has never stood. The Federation of B&H Ministry of Regional Planning and Environment is directly bound to remove the munara.)