Meeting with Members of the State Commission for Cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and UNESCO
A meeting with members of the State Commission for Cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and UNESCO was held on 3 July 2003 at 14.00 in the premises of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition to members and staff of the Commission, the meeting was attended by Sead Avdić, chairman of the UNESCO Commission, Boriša Starović, member of the UNESCO Commission, and Ambassador Vadim Kuznetsov, deputy High Representative and senior advisor.
Amra Hadžimuhamedović, the Commission chair informed those present of the establishment, status, jurisdiction and modus operandi of the Commission. She noted that by Decision of the Presidency, the Commission is authorized to engage in international cooperation in the domain of the protection of the cultural and historical heritage, and for this reason needs to develop on-going cooperation with the State Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO, since their activities in this field are complementary.
Ljiljana Ševo referred to the Commission's obligation to enact individual decisions for each property on the Provisional List of National Monuments drawn up by the Commission in its previous complement and consisting of 777 properties. She pointed out that the Commission does not have resources of its own for physical interventions to monuments, which is the responsibility of the Entity institutions.
Zeynep Ahunbay said that it was very important to decide which monuments Bosnia and Herzegovina would put forward as world heritage monuments, and that in this regard it was vital to work with the State Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO and other relevant institutions so as to raise funds from foreign donors for the protection of the endangered heritage.
Tina Wik said that the Commission was ready to support and assist in any way it could the work of the Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO.
Sead Avdić said that the UNESCO Commission had been set up six months ago by decision of the Council of Ministers and that it had immediately begun working at full capacity. It consists of ten members, all of them prominent experts in the fields of science, education and culture. He also said that the UNESCO Commission fully supported the work of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, and that the two Commissions would inevitably need to work together in part. In every project relating to the cultural and historical heritage of BiH, UNESCO is bound to uphold the views of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments. The UNESCO Commission had backed the candidacy of the old heart of the city of Mostar and the Old Bridge for UNESCO protection, which also has other dimensions such as the reintegration of the city of Mostar, the harmonization of the city administration, improving interpersonal relations, and such like. The decision on whether to add the old heart of the city of Mostar to the world heritage list will be taken at the concluding congress in Beijing. The State Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO is not only responsible for culture but also for education and science, in relation to the definition of macro projects reintegrating Bosnia and Herzegovina, such as introducing IT and internet access to primary and secondary education. The UNESCO office is pulling out of Sarajevo and the State Commission will be taking over all its work. It receives assistance in its operations from the Department for international, scientific, technological and cultural cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Boriša Starović suggested that some of the topics to be addressed at the next joint meeting could be whether the Commission to Preserve National Monuments is satisfied with its year's work so far, whether it has had any problems in its work, how it makes contact with international experts, and how significant their help and experience in heritage protection has been.
Ljiljana Ševo said that the decision to include the historic heart of the city of Mostar on the World Heritage List would probably be adopted before the Commission enacted a decision to designate it as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Amra Hadžimuhamedović said that both the Old Bridge in Mostar and the historic heart of the city of Mostar were on the Provisional List of National Monuments, and that the Commission would try to draft a decision to designate them as national monuments at its tenth session, to be held in October. The historic heart of the city of Mostar had been suggested for inclusion on the World Heritage List even before the war, and the initiative had been revived five years ago. The city authorities of Mostar and the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural and Historical Heritage of BiH had drawn up a study for the historic heart of the city of Mostar.
It was resolved that the two Commissions would set up a system of on-going joint meetings and timelines for cooperation. Future meetings would be convened by the chairmen of the two Commissions, by drafting a single agenda, agreeing the venue and date for the meeting, and jointly signing the invitations to the meeting. Following the meeting, a joint press conference will be held.
It was resolved that the adoption of decisions on the cultural properties to be proposed for inclusion on the World Heritage List in future be carried out in close cooperation between the two Commissions, and that the priorities to be submitted to UNESCO would be based on a proposal by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments.