Sessions of the Commission

Press Releases

Visits to Municipalities


Campaign for Protection of Heritage at Risk

Projects and Conferences

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)


Press conference following the 18th session


            Press conference following the 18th session was held on 31th January 2005.

            Amra Hadžimuhamedović notified the journalists of the resolutions passed by the Commission.

            Fifteen Decisions were issued on proclamation of the following properties national monuments:

-         The archaeological site of the remains of the Roman settlement, late antique basilica and the grave at Crkvina in Varošluk, Turbe, Travnik Municipality; 

-         The archaeological site of the Batal's grave in Turbe near Travnik;

-         The archaeological site of the – At Mejdan (Hippodrome) in Sarajevo;

-         The architectural ensemble of the Old Travnik fortress in Travnik;

-         The architectural ensemble of the Old Vranduk fortress in Vranduk, Zenica municipality;

-         The architectural ensemble – Old fortress Bijela Stijena (White Rock) in Bihać as a national monument;

-         The architectural ensemble - the Spa in Ilidža mahala in Gornji Šeher, Banja Luka;

-         The site and remains of the architectural ensemble of the mosque in Podhum (the Dervish pasha Bajezidagić mosque) in Mostar;

-         The historic monument of the Šeher Ćehaja's bridge in Sarajevo;

-         The architectural ensemble - the Ali-pasha mosque with harem in Sarajevo;

-         The historic monument of the Clock Tower on Musala in Travnik;

-         The architectural ensemble - the Šarena(Sulajmenija) mosque in Travnik;

-         The architectural ensemble – Turbe pod lipom or turbe of the Abdulah-pasha, Dželal-pasha and Perišan Mustafa-pasha with drinking fountain in Travnik;

-         The historic monument of the Bridge on Žepa river;

-         The historic building - the Cathedral in Sarajevo.


            She pointed out that the Report on the activities of the Commission in 2004, adopted on 18th session, included all fields of activities under the Commission's authorities, including material and financial affairs. The Report will be forwarded in such form to the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as to the Ministry Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina for adopting. After that, it will be published within the Commission's web site, becoming available to the public.

            Ms. Hadžimuhamedović informed about the Commission's decision to include historical building – the Bridge on Žepa on the List of Endangered Monuments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and thus at that day, 37 architectural ensembles and individual properties were included on the List. The Commission expects to publish certain properties from this List that are not endangered any more due to result of the campaign «Cultural memory – a vanishing treasure» on the session to be held in March

            For the very first time since the Commission has started its activities as the state institution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 28 petitions were received from the Center for Islamic Culture for mosques built beyond time frame set by the Commission's criterions (1960). Thus, the Commission made 28 decisions establishing that 28 newly built mosques do not fulfill criterions for designation as national monuments. The decisions were made on the basis of conducted inspection of structures condition, insight into structures historical data and based on dialogue with the owners of structures, as well as with local authorities’ representatives. 

            The Commission debated the reports on fulfilling the tasks related to international cooperating on its 18th session. The most important tasks are forwarding the monthly reports to the Committee for World Heritage within UNESCO. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs appointed associates within the Commissions to be in charge for preparation of monthly reports on implementation of the World Heritage Convention. This Report, prepared in extremely short deadline and forwarded in Paris, represents a pre-condition for Bosnia and Herzegovina for submitting its projects and nominating the properties for inclusion on the World Heritage List, as well as for taking part in projects implementation concerning implementation of the World Heritage Convention in the following 8 years. Referring to above-mentioned, the Commission, pursuant to its authorizations resulting from the rule book on international cooperation adopted by the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, made a decision on re-nomination of the historical center of Mostar for inclusion on the World Heritage List.  Ms. Hadžimuhamedović reminded that nomination submitted to the World Heritage Committee in 1998 had been suspended in 2003. If the state, member of UNESCO, desires specific property to be designated as a national monument in the case of the property nomination being suspended, such state is obliged to submit a new nomination. The City Management of Mostar was an initiator of the activities for preparation of documents needed for nomination of the historical center of Mostar under the name Old Town of Mostar. Since, the documentation has been collected and the Commission completed advising with expert bodies and presenting the nomination to the Presidency, decision on official nomination submission in Paris was made.

            In the previous period the Commission submitted the nomination of the Bridge of Mehmed pasha Sokolović in Višegrad for inclusion on the List of the 100 most endangered properties run by the World Heritage Fund, New York.  The Commission received firm support for that nomination from the European Council and several international organizations involved in heritage protection activities, including some American non-government organizations. While this nomination is under debate within the World Heritage Fund in New York, exceptional interest has been shown by media from all over the world, and thus BBC, CNN, Reuters, Observer and other foreign media paid attention to the Bridge of Mehmed pasha Sokolović in Višegrad, to its state of endangerment and its significant symbolic value for Bosnia and Herzegovina, region and world generally. 

            Dubravko Lovrenović informed about the process of drawing up of draft text of the Law on Cultural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He mentioned that the European Council started initiative for drawing up of the Law draft text and conducted supervision of that process.

            The seminar in Sophia was held in October 2004, and in November the European Council expert, Robert Pickard, visited Sarajevo due to discussion of the draft text of the Law.  The Commission organized on 26 January 2005, within its 18th session, an expert debate on draft text of the Law, while the European Council representative repeated his estimation the draft text of this Law was the best comparing to all previous laws in the region.  It means that the Commission goes the right way, taking into consideration conceptually, methodologically, informatively and factually most of the European standards while drawing up of this indispensable Law. The expert discussion was not deprived of negative opinions and presentations of personal attitudes, showing presence of three concepts of the draft text proposal. The First is the most radical one desiring to bring back the matter to the beginning. The Second concept quotes the Law from 1985, even so the new Law is quite similar to the Law from 1985. And the third concept supports proposed text. Mr. Lovrenović pointed out that the Commission was opened for all possible improvements, modifications and amendments of this Law, although the Commission's opinion was that the whole discussion had been about re-distribution of authorities within the process of cultural heritage protection. In the scope of that segment, the Commission was referred with the largest number of comments, in the sense of assigning too many authorities to itself. However, the Commission accepted confirmed suggestions and comments.  In this segment considerable flexibility was also shown due to the large number of cases leaving an alternative of keeping the authorities for some segments within entity ministries. There is also an issue which state institution, except of the Commission, should be appointed to be responsible for implementing the Law. Unfortunately, in this moment there is no such institution in Bosnia and Herzegovina, due to nonexistence of the state Ministry for Culture. The Ministry of Civil Affair perform duties concerning the culture, for which it is authorized, but this is not sufficiently and only establishing of the Ministry for Culture would fulfill this gap as appropriate. The Commission rejects comments on expert part of the text, considering them groundless and malicious, and accepts comments referring to the Commission's authorities. Other comments can be discussed, but it is unacceptable to bring the process back to the beginning, because the main intention and main intonation of this text is harmonized with the European standards, and is in coordination with the obligations that Bosnia and Herzegovina has as the member of the European Council.

            Tina Wik informed about contents and purpose of this Law, which was strongly connected to the European laws. This is a process through which every European country have had to pass in the previous three years, and content of the Law implicates existence of central state institution competent for political and legal issues related to culture heritage. The institutes may independently perform supervision, revision and managing of the cultural heritage, but only in accordance with the policy set by competent state institution.  The largest change in Europe is that the institutes cannot produce design documentation any more, because by that development and introduction of new ideas and knowledge in the field of cultural heritage protection was thwarted. The European idea was to prevent monopolized situation that disables development and introduction of new knowledge in the field of cultural heritage protection through open competitions and tendering procedures.

             If the system of tendering procedure for restoration works on the buildings of cultural heritage is applied, then the possibilities to engage experts with the higher level of knowledge and experience in that field are becoming bigger. In that way, all experts are stimulated to improve their knowledge in continuity. That is the basic idea of the new Law, i.e. to stimulate knowledge and prevent corruption practice. Each new system has its opposition and that was even case in the European countries where new laws were adopted. However this is the only way for Bosnia and Herzegovina to become European Council member and to be included in expert’s discussions all over the world.

            Ljiljana Ševo mentioned that by the Law adopting and its coming into force, existing laws at the lower levels (entity, cantonal, municipal) shall not be revoked instantly.

            This issue caused misunderstanding and opinion dispersing of experts involved in discussion about draft text of the Law.  Furthermore, one more issue, issue of categorization caused disagreements as well, since most of the participants, institutionally and professionally involved in the protection of heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina, whether through institutes, museums or faculties, still conduct to a certain degree archaic approach. Such approach is already exceeded within European scopes and that is why the categorization is no more subject of discussion there.  Since this draft text of the Law was drawn up due to initiative and instructions received from the European Council, this misunderstanding should have been exceed in this way. 

            Ms. Ševo also informed about extension of activities being conducted in continuity, i.e. about multimedia presentation of endangered heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina within the campaign carried out by the Commission for the purpose of protection of cultural heritage. Multimedia presentation «Cultural memory – a vanishing treasure» was presented in Brčko on 6 November 2004. The exhibition was opened by Brčko District supervisor, Ms. Susan Johnson and the mayor Branko Damjanac.

            After that, the exhibition, as a part of the 50 years anniversary of the European Convention on Culture, was opened in Tuzla on 19 November 2004. This multimedia presentation will be presented in Belgrade on 02 February 2005, as well.  Being invited by the Ministry of Culture of Serbia, the Commission will present endangered heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Museum of Ethnography in Belgrade. It is very important to present heritage in the region country which confronts very similar problems, and whose heritage is related to historical and cultural heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

            The Commission visited Travnik, Vitez, Zenicu and Kakanj municipalities. Unfortunately, due to bad weather conditions, insight in state of the most important cultural properties within those municipalities was not possible. Ms. Ševo pointed out that the representatives of Travnik municipality had indicated establishing of municipality commission for the purpose of cooperation with the Commission to Preserve National Monuments. There is a non-government organization in Vitez engaged in heritage protection.  Presence of non-government organizations is of essential significance due to their contribution to the heritage protection. One of the initiatives is starting an archeological colony, and this is very important for the area of Vitez due to existence of numerous known and even potential archeological localities.  Due to significant help of the Museum of the City of Zenica and authorities on all levels, Zenica Municipality invested important resources for the purpose of reconstruction of Vranduk fortress, which is now in much better condition and of great importance is to involve this national monument in development of community. In Kakanj municipality the Commission was informed that 45.000 KM was allocated for direct protection of heritage, what is an exceptional example that should be followed by other municipalities, as well. The Commission has had a very fruitful and successful cooperation with this municipality since the beginning of its work.  

            Amra Hadžimuhamedović mentioned some statistic data excerpted from the Report on the Commission's activities in 2004. In the last year the Commission adopted 88 decisions, received 139 petitions and 2047 memos, requests and claims. Inspection of heritages condition was performed in 52 municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Six meetings were held with different government and non-government organizations and institutions being related to heritage protection, and thus a meeting with the representatives of religious communities was held too. Two catalogues were printed, and the Commission's first annual was prepared for printing.  The Commission had an intensive cooperation on international level. The Commission established a library with 700 library units and expects this number to be considerable increased after received donors’ financial support.  In the last year, the Commission had budged expenditure amounting to 841,535 KM, and for 2005 the Commission claimed for budged in the amount of 5.259.734 KM, which will be mostly related to implementation of the Commission's decisions, i.e. to direct activities on heritage protection.

            Representatives of the Commission responded to journalists' questions on the Law (Amra Hadžimuhamedović emphasized that there was an inertia in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to maintain status quo situation. On one side there is clearly state effort to have any function on the state level as weaker as possible, consequently every effort to improve authorities on the state level is obstructed in order to weak authorities on the state level as more as possible. On the other side, the law from 1985 is partly applied, but fact that, pursuant to that Law, institutes have no authority to perform designing or inspection in the field of heritage protection is ignored.  In the last several years, the institutes have developed a monopoly over designs/projects and therefore every quality control, resources consumption, insisting on transparency or debates on designs/projects meet their resistance. The Law establishes standards in order to avoid possibility of having one institution controlling documentation, resources, approving designs/projects and in the same time prepare/execute the same. The Law from 1985 is frequently mentioned, however in the previous 20 or more years perception of the heritage has been changed, and thus perception of criterion for heritage protection has been change, as well as the heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Properties defined as heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1985, today are mostly on dump sites. That means introducing of new criterion and legalization of new methods. In 1985, when the Law was adopted, deconstruction was not considered as a legitimate method. Insisting on maintaining the situation as of before the war, i.e. situation from 1985, is in fact covered effort to maintain status quo where none law contains real frame for heritage protection. Condition of heritage and quality of interventions and projects being applied testify the best about that. Besides above-mentioned issues, the Commission discussed the Report on implementation of Annex 8. The entity governments are in charge to implement decisions adopted by the Commission. The Commission forwarded demand to both entities and to Brčko District due to submission of information about the way applied in order to provide technical, administrative, legal and financial measures for implementing of Annex 8. Notice on conducted measures has been submitted from the Ministry for Regional Planning and the Ministry of for Culture of FB&H. The Ministry for Regional Planning has issued many acts and inspection decisions, however none of those decisions has not been carried out in whole, except for Fethija mosque in Bihać. Ministry for Regional Planning,  Construction and Environment of Republic of Srpska has submitted its reports on large number of inspection decisions that have not been carried out and larger number of administrative bylaws issued to permit rehabilitation, however numerous of them were not issued within legally regulated deadline of 30 days.

            The Federal Ministry of Couture and Sport submitted detailed report on implementation of 3.000.000 KM. The Commission waits to receive detailed report on achieved results for every single property. Many properties are on that list, and results cannot bee seen for certain properties.  Republic Institute for Cultural-Historical and Natural Heritage Protection refused to submit any information concerning implementation of Annex 8 stating in one of the letters that has no intention, interest or personnel for cooperation with the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, which is written confirmation of violation of obligations established by the Law on Implementation of Decisions adopted by the Commission, and which is forced in Republic of Srpska by decision of the High Representative in 2001.  Brčko District allocated 2.000.000 KM in a budget for the last year due to heritage protection. Unfortunately, those resources were not implemented due to deficit of qualified personnel able to perform work in accordance with the capacities  of Brčko District. Tenders are published and preparation of design documentation is under way for several monuments, including Town Hall and Azizija mosque. The Commission expects that plain political determination of Brčko District to implement Annex 8 and provide resources in the budget will be also supplemented by a high-quality institutional solution. Concerning the afore-mentioned, the Commission will be completely at their disposal in order to overpass gap of no having expert personnel in Brčko District. Hence, this Law is change in any case, and represents the solution that enables improvement of heritage protection on state level, also this Law established institutional framework on the state level. This means extending of the Commission's authorities as the only state institution competent for heritage protection, establishing of inspection within the Ministry for Civil Affairs, and particularly important, defining of institutions competent for protection of movable heritage on the state level, such as the National Museum and other 7 institutions having undefined status. This Law provides institutional framework for heritage protection. Adopting of particular laws for the afore-mentioned 7 institutions for protection of movable property is foreseen, as well. The Law on the Cultural Heritage Protection on the state level thus defines authorities of both, the Commission and inspection, and opens possibilities to have institutional framework of heritage protection on entity or lower level established by the entity laws. Consequently, the Law does not deal with institutional framework, unless it is on the state level. Therefore, the institutes and other institutions operating on the state level are not included in the Law, because the issues related to such establishments should be covered by the entity laws. The Commission shall forward this Law to the Ministry for Civil Affairs, which will present the Law to the Ministry Council and Parliament. Expert's debate, organized by the Commission, related to the draft text is not required by the procedure. The Commission desired to involve the experts which considered helpful due to contribution in drawing up of the draft of the proposed law.

             Taking into consideration the course of the expert's debate and size of the reactions of the institutes, which are against new changes, taken in public, the Commission is going to summaries the debate, forward the Law text and debate results to the European Council, Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, and those competent institutions will make a decision on the further destiny of the Law.  Ljiljana Ševo turned to the Law from 1985.  Besides positive evaluations and evaluations that showed in which extend this Law became obsolete and inapplicable, it should have in mind that that was a law related to Socialistic Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Today, Bosnia and Herzegovina is based on the Dayton Agreement and has totally different political outline from Socialistic Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina

            In spite of all qualities of that Law, which was applicable, good and harmonized with the European standards of that time, that enormous difference of the political situation does not allow its re-application, not even some significant working-out or revision. According to current legal regulations (Annex 8 and the laws on implementation of the Annex 8), the Commission has one jurisdiction – to adopt decisions on designation. The implementation of those decisions is delegated to the ministries for regional planning on entity levels. From the start there were difficulties related to implementation, because those ministries do not engage sufficient number of expert personnel that can estimate a quality of certain project, they were compelled to seek the expert opinion from institutions. The confusion arose when the ministries asked for expert opinion the Institute, which was in the same time and author of the design/project, causing overlapping due to that. The new Law actually tried to improve that difficult implementation of set of laws from 2002 and to contribute to its efficiency. The reports on implementation of funds for protection of national monuments being or not transferred by entity ministries for regional planning and culture are still (until some new law comes into effect) a matter of goodwill, because in the Law is stated that entity institutions are obliged to cooperate with the Commission, what is a wide and undefined concept, and thus some of them consider to be obliged to submit reports, while others consider to be possibly obliged to forward information concerning monuments. In fact, the Commission is confronted to lack of plain law framework, and this Law, having been submitted for expert debate, tried to solve those large legal nature issues within the scope of monument protection in the best possible way. Amra Hadžimuhamedović added that persons being systematically and seriously committed to the issue of heritage protection knew the categorization, as an instrument in the process of heritage protection, was abandoned a long time ago. In contemporary theories and contemporary approaches, the heritage protection considers categorization as one of the instruments that even contributed to neglect ion of certain segments of heritage. In different time periods, different criterions and perceptions of the heritage exist. Issue is whether the same criterion, according to which something was valuable for Republic of Srpska or Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1996, remains the same, or something that was valuable to SR B&H in 1950. Therefore, the categorization is absolutely abounded outline from the experts. She mentioned that in 1985 the Law had regulated adopting of the rulebook on categorization, which had been adopted defining criterions for heritage categorization in three categories in Bosnia and Herzegovina, however it had never been implemented. About the categorization as an instrument that may be used, speaks the fact that it was not possible to implement the same (not even that one foreseen in 1985) by implementing the Commission's decisions related to removing of crosses from the Old Town of Stolac (The Commission insists on implementation of its decisions. The Commission accepts all announcements concerning negotiations on implementation of the Law and has received assurances from the Office of Height Representative, which is directly authorized for implementation of the civil part of the Peace Agreement and thus for Annex 8, that the Commission's decisions have to be implemented, however the federal inspector did not choose an optimal date for implementation of those decisions. The Commission will continue to insist on the implementation of its decisions).

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