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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 20th session


             Press conference following the 20th session was held on 9th May 2005. Ljiljana Ševo, chair of the Commission, notified journalists of the resolutions passed by the Commission.

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

-         The historic building  of the Smailagić (Pirija) tower in Livno

-         The architectural ensemble of the Balagija (Balaguša) mosque with burial ground and courtyard in Livno

-         The archaeological area of the Debelo Brdo, prehistoric defensive settlement, ancient and late ancient defence facility in Sarajevo

-         The architectural ensemble of the Old Zvornik Fort in Zvornik

-         The historic site of the necropolis with stećak tombstones in Olovci near Kladanj

-         The architectural ensemble of the Old Bočac Fort in Mrkonjić Grad

-         The architectural ensemble of the Vekil Harč (Hadžijska, Hajjis’) mosque in Sarajevo

-         The Alifakovac cemetery ensemble in Sarajevo

-         The site and remains of the Kizlaraga mosque in Mrkonjić Grad

-         The architectural ensemble of the Serb Orthodox Church of St. Sava in Blažuj with burial ground

-         The historic urban area of Blagaj

-         The architectural ensemble of the Vraca Memorial Park in Sarajevo

-         The architectural ensemble of the Jeni (Hasan-aga) mosque in Travnik

-         The church dedicated to the translation of the relics of St Nicholas, a log-built church in the village of Jelićka

-         The architectural ensemble of the church of the Holy Apostles SS Peter and Paul in Palačkovci, together with its movable heritage

            Ms. Ševo informed that out of 5 decisions to reject petitions to designate properties as national monuments, 4 had been adopted for the properties having submitted petitions and one for the property being included into the Provisional List of National Monuments in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            She pointed out that the Commission had presented their priorities in the field of direct protection, as well as in the field of institutional strengthening of protection service in BaH at the Donor meeting, held simultaneously to the 19th session, with the ambassadors, the ambassadors’ representatives and implementing organizations. Some of the proposed projects were adopted. In that way, the Embassy of the Republic of Germany has shown interest to participate in the project of conservation and restoration of the icon collection in the Serb Orthodox church in Livno. The Bill of Quantities, prepared by the Secretariat, was forwarded to the cultural attaché within the Embassy of the Republic of Germany, therefore the Commission expects return information and further activities leading to the commencement of the works in regard to the protection of this, remarkably valuable icon collection. 

            Besides afore-mentioned, the meeting of the British Council representatives and the Commission was held. It was agreed that the British Council would allocate the resources amounting to 18,111.00 KM for production and erection of information boards for the national monuments in Jajce, because, at the time being, the British Council activities are focused to the region Jajce – Šipovo. Draft design of the shape, dimension, content and way of information boards placing in the area of Jajce municipality was prepared in cooperation with experts from the Secretariat and the designer Kenan Zekić, engaged by the British Council. The same was adopted at the Commission's 20th session. 26 information boards are necessary for the Jajce city only, therefore the Commission would submit a proposal to the British Council in the following year, in order to ensure funds for remaining 7 information boards. In that way at least the citizens of Jajce, as well as the visitors (coming more and more often within the tourist projects) will be well informed.

            The British Council has also ensured the fund for supplementing of the Commission's library. Since the beginning of its work, the Commission forms the library, containing large number of relevant titles and being public and available to all people interested in heritage research, giving in that way a significant contribution to heritage protection. 

            She pointed out importance of holding a meeting between the Commission's representatives and the European Union for Regional Development (EU RED). The EU RED primarily maintain cooperation with non-governmental organizations and institutions at local level. Therefore, the Commission is not able to receive direct EU RED support, but it is able to candidate its projects, in cooperation with non-governmental and local institutions. EU RED has announced public procurement notice for design proposals in the field of tourism, and especially for including of cultural heritage in tourist offer. The public procurement notice expired on 17 May 2005, however it will be re-announced, so the Commission would be able to join this project together with non-governmental organizations and local authorities. The Commission would be focused to presentation, i.e. heritage presentation, first of all by erection of information boards. The Commission would also take part in other EU RED programs, first of all by presenting of the Commission’s work and including the Commission's list of national monuments in the EU RED implementation projects. The EU RED supports the project of producing of registry and documentation base, as well. This project is developed by the Commission in cooperation with the Government of Japan, and within Regional Program of the Council of Europe for South-East Europe.

            The meeting was held with the representatives of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), who also plan program of tourism development in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this year they will be focused to Nevesinje, Blagaj, Jajce and Podveležje area, and after the meeting with the Commission, the area of Stolac would be included in the program, as well. The UNDP strategy is focused to tourist potentials and, even more significant, to inclusion of cultural heritage in developing tourism programs, which the Commission considers of a special importance for contribution that may be achieved in the field of the heritage protection in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            She pointed out the Commission had strong support from the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Embassy of the Republic of Turkey, in cooperation with IRCICA, has shown interest in reconstruction of Musala in Kamnegrad. This property was designated as a national monument by the Commission, and, at the time being, the Commission and the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey collaborate in order to solve administration obstacles that appeared while carrying out the restoration process of this building. The Government of the Republic of Turkey is very interested to take part in the project of structural reconstruction of the Mehmed-pasha Sokolović bridge in Višegrad, The Commission expects the Government of the Republic of Turkey to ensure the resources, mainly necessary to conduct research works and establish the level of bridge endangerment by the most sophisticated methods, very soon. All mentioned will be followed by the second phase, i.e. concrete physical protection and structural reconstruction of damages that occurred at this extremely valuable cultural monument.

            Amra Hadžimuhamedović explained that, two years ago, the UNDP had started a project for assuring the conditions to achieve human rights, within the area of Stolac municipality. Afterwards, it was concluded that the protection of cultural and historical heritage was the basis of all the activities that are necessary to achieve human rights in Stolac municipality. Therefore, they started the activities on production of designs, which would promote cultural and historical heritage. The meeting held with the Commission, for them represented a meeting with the state level institution, which would provide legal and institutional framework for the activities they have been carrying out for the last two years, and which are now extended to Blagaj, Podveležje, Šipovo and Jajce areas, which coincide with target area of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

            Ms. Hadžimuhamedović pointed out the heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina was endangered as a whole, and that the List of Endangered Monuments was a way to focus attention of donors, as well as of relevant authorities, to certain properties. At present time, the List includes 35 endangered monuments. At the Commission's 20th session the Balaga mosque in Livno, as well as the Serb Orthodox church St. icholas in Srđevići, Gacko, were included into the List. The Balagija mosque in Livno is a structure that originates from the 16th century. Due to some architectural characteristics and certain tarih (chronogram) readings, the mosque is similar to the buildings which had been built in the 15th century. However, it cannot be historically substantiated if compared to Livno, but in any case represents one of the oldest buildings of that kind in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is one of the famous sub-dome Livno mosques. Interior of the mosque was beautifully painted in the 16th century, and the traces of those decorations are still visible on the walls of a large section. Somewhere they are covered by layers of new synthetic paints, which have been applied in the period of exploitation of the building. In the previous period, the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina allocated funds for reconstruction of damaged lead roof. Rehabilitation of damaged parts of munara and interior conservation would be of a great significance for the following period. Taking into account the value of the building and  lack of its maintenance and use, due to which the building decays constantly, the Commission considers a priority to start appropriate conservation and restoration works as soon as possible. The church of St. Nicholas in Srđevići, Gacko, originates from the 16th century, presenting distinctive sample of the Orthodox churches built in the area of Herzegovina, and representing characteristic architecture of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Building exterior is of a poor expressivity, contrary to its extremely luxury interior. The church was painted, actually picturesque decorated, and fragments of those remarkable valued original paintings are still preserved, unfortunately, only in fragments. The church is located in the exiting burial ground and it sunk in the ground almost to the half of the walls.  Because of that, as well as due to inappropriate restoration works, carried out in the mid last century, when stone tiles were replaced with large, overweight stone tiles, using cement mortar, the dampness inside the church appeared. Cement mortar disables diffusion in the walls, thus when pointings are closed by the mortar and roofing is inappropriately made, dampness start to appear on inside walls. In addition, leaning of soil layers on the walls causes capillary dampness, making the dampness problem even more complicate. Undertaking of appropriate protective measures, a soon as possible, is of a great significance. Gacko municipality handle budget resources for protection of this building, and the Commission considers conducting of legal procedure and producing of adequate design, in accordance with standards required for monuments of such type and category, to be necessary. 

            The Commission resolved to remove 6 properties from the List of endangered monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as follows: architectural ensemble Handanija mosque in Prusac, Donji Vakuf municipality (the works are to be finished soon. Funds, as well as complete conditions for protection of this endangered property are provided by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) via Cultural Heritage without Frontiers); Ćejvan Ćehajin hammam in Mostar (the restoration works, considered to be inappropriate by the Commission, are, due to the Commission's requests, remedied in the final stage, therefore concerning the size of changes the property is no longer included in the list of designated monuments, nor in the List of endangered properties); Banski dvor (Ban’s palace) or the City Administration building in Banja Luka (the works that were endangering the building have been finished. The property was brought into the state which is to be especially examined by the Commission, in order to adopt final decision, since the property is significantly ruined and it is not any more the property included in the Commission’s list of priorities for conduction of interventions); Town hall in Brčko (Brčko District has allocated funds for restoration, thus the research works, as well as production of documentation necessary for restoration execution are in progress. The Commission expects this property to be restored by the end of 2006); Architectural ensemble Fethija mosque with harem (following the Federal inspector’s intervention, the mosque was reinstated into the state as it was before the works that endangered it, concrete columns were removed, consequently the property is not endangered any more); Architectural ensemble Uznovićka mosque in Stolac (the only urban mosque having walls unbroken after the burning and destroying in 1993, the only mosque in Stolac which remains were not relocated. This mosque is extremely valuable architectural ensemble, incorporated in very valuable residential ensemble with significant wall decorations, as well as decorations made in the stone. Ensemble of Uzunovićka mosque was reconstructed solely by the resources and efforts of its owners, returnees to Stolac. This poor and deprived community recognized secured returnee to the town by the reconstruction of its heritage, ensuring the property protected against total vanishing. This is an example how in the cases when institutions, authorized by the law, do not accomplish their duty (the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was obliged to allocate financial resources and undertake all necessary measures of protection), those, filling moral duty and identifying themselves with their heritage, substitute missing state and the law).

            She pointed out the Commission had gave special attention to discussion concerning new situation in regard to two exceptionally valuable endangered monuments: the Mehmed-pasha Sokolović bridge in Višegrad and historical area Radimlje in Stolac. The Commission will inform the journalists on its position by the announcement in written form.

            Ljiljana Ševo added while discussion about the program of the Commission’s work for 2005, i.e. plan of activities, the Commission had decided to stress on the areas of East Herzegovina, Podrinje and Pounje  (Bihać, Cazin, Kladuša).

            Dubravko Lovrenović informed the meeting was attended by the representatives of non-governmental organizations, tourist organizations from some cantons, and the Ministry of Trade and Tourism. It was resolved this would be only one out of many related meetings, used for continuation of activities on inclusion of cultural and historical inheritance in tourism promotion.

In the scope of the Commissions 20th session, the Commission visited Nevesinje, Gacko and Foča municipality. The municipalities’ representatives have shown maximal willingness to cooperate with the Commission, and he pointed out the Foča municipality where existed strong willingness to pay more attention to protection and renovation of cultural and historical monuments in collaboration with the Commission to Preserve National Monuments. 

            Representatives of the Commission responded to journalists' questions on the protection of the Mehmed-pasha Sokolović bridge in Višegrad and historical area Radimlje near Stolac. Ljiljana Ševo informed all activities, being performed in the vicinity of medieval necropolis in Radimlje, are against the regulations of the Commission's decisions. Pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in BaH, all the Commission's decisions are final and legally binding. Therefore, the protective measures, prescribed by the Commission's decisions bind all levels authorities, as well as individuals, to abstain from any activities that may put in question authenticity of structure condition, i.e. that may endanger national monuments. The national monument Radimlje is endangered in continuity, and unfortunately, even the Commission, as a competent institution, has submitted several requests to the competent Ministry for Regional Planning and authorized inspection at the BaH level, in order to suspend the works that directly endanger monument and threaten to completely isolate and destroy the monument, it did not bear a fruit. This, what is currently going on, is an escalation of one out of serial events, and therefore the Commission at this time requests, not only from the competent ministry, but from the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is pursuant to the Annex 8, as well as the Law on the Implementation of Decisions of the Commission, obliged to provide all legal, technical, administrative and other measures, in order to provide appropriate protection of the national monument.  On this occasion, the Commission has, having understood urgency and escalation of such illegal activities at the locality, forwarded letter to the Office of High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, due to direct competency of the OHR concerning implementation of civil part of the Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Commission expects the Prime Minister of the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to bind the Ministry of Internal Affairs, competent to take action, to identify a person who committed crime (because endangering and destroying of national monument is a crime, pursuant to the Criminal Law of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and to solve this issue. She informed the true works on protection of the Mehmed-pasha Sokolović bridge have not started yet. Last year, underwater survey was conducted in order to determine condition of damaged abutments. Before the war, according to the design of engineer Gojković, and its team from Belgrade, one of the abutments was reconstructed. The works on innovation of that structural reconstruction design are continued under the supervision of the Institute for protection of cultural-historical and natural heritage of Republic of Srpska, as a competent institution for protection. Based on visual review, insight in the design documentation and insight in the underwater photographs of the bridge abutments, the Institute for protection of cultural-historical and natural heritage of Republic of Srpska has formed a commission consisted of eminent civil engineers. The commission resolved at the present time, the motor vehicle traffic would not endanger the bridge stability. The Commission to Preserve National Monuments is ready to re-examine its decision and possibly revise the same. However, the Commission expects to receive the documentation based on which the decision on non-endangering the bridge by the motor vehicle traffic was adopted. The Commission is prepared to possible reviewing of protective measures set in its decision, although they must be established on the contemporary research approach, meaning sophisticated approach in the process of bridge structural stability examining. The Government of the Republic of Turkey is willing to join in this project and the Commission is desirous this cooperation will lead to conducting of the research, as a necessary condition for further planning, i.e. for producing of complete design of structural bridge reconstruction. Until that time, the Commission's decision, containing protective measures on motor vehicle traffic, prohibition is into effect.).



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