Meeting with leaders of the religious communities of Bosnia and Herzegovina
The meeting was held on 8 December 2003 at 14.00 in the conference room of the Labour Union Centre. The meeting was attended by Commission members and staff, and by Mustafa Cerić, Reis ul ulema of the Islamic Community of BiH with Muharem Hasanbegović, his chef de cabinet; Seid Smajkić, Mufti of Mostar; Hamed Efendić, Mufti of Goražde; Besim Čemić, secretary of the Tuzla Mufti's office; Esad Hrvačić, attorney of the Vakuf Directorate; Hrizostom Jević, Bishop of Bihać-Petrovac; Danilo Pavlović, prior of the Žitomislići Monastery; Mitar Pavlović, secretary of the Dabro-Bosnian Metropolitanate; Milojko Topalović, secretary of the Zvornik-Tuzla bishopric; Fr. Mijo Džolan, Provincial of Bosnia Argentina; Mato Zovkić, Vicar-General of the Vrbosanski Archbishop's ordinariate; Anto Orlovac, Vicar-General of the Banja Luka Bishop's ordinariate; Dr. Tomo Vukšić, canon vicar of the Mostar Bishop's ordinariate; and Jakob Finci, President of the Jewish Community of BiH.
Conclusions of the meeting:
Cooperation between the Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina and representatives of the religious communities was of the greatest importance in the light of the fact that the majority of national monuments in Bosnia and Herzegovina were owned by the religious communities or owed their provenance to them.
In its work, the Commission seeks to receive suggestions from the religious communities on how to recognize specific problems and find a more effective framework for meeting the obligations within the Commission's jurisdiction.
The meeting held on 8 December 2003 should pave the way for continued opportunities for cooperation between the Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina and representatives of the religious communities, given the importance of preserving the heritage in the process of peace implementation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bilateral meetings are needed to resolve specific problems.
The Commission strives to implement the provisons of the law stipulating that every property damaged or destroyed during the war and designated as a national monument is to be renovated in the same form, on the same site, with the same dimensions, of the same materials, and using the same techniques wherever possible. Legal provisions had ensured that obstruction of the process could be avoided, but only on-going cooperation between the Commission and the owners of national monuments could ensure that these provisions were consistently implemented.
Cooperation with the owners of religious buildings with the status of national monuments also entails cooperation with the entity and local authorities. The international community gives its backing to this process.
At the same time, cooperation with the Commission will ensure that representatives of the religious communities receive full information, and a fuller and more prompt insight into the process of adoption of decisions to designate properties as national monuments as well as monitoring the implementation of these decisions.
Religious buildings belong to the living heritage. When adopting decisions to designate properties as national monuments, the Commission to Preserve National Monuments respects the basic function of these buildings, bearing in mind the needs of those who occupy or use them.
It has been known for religious buildings to be used for manipulative or political ends. It was resolved that a priority obligation was to prevent the addition of new symbols to national monuments, and to accord particular importance to places that are significant places of worship for several religions, with multiple historical and cultural relevance.
In future cooperation between the religious communities and the Commission, efforts will be made to resolve certain time-related difficulties – the need to renovate destroyed religious buildings as part of the process of return of refugees and displaced persons.
The Commission will notify the Government of FBiH of certain irregularities in the work of the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport, particularly as regards inviting bids from contractors for rehabilitation works on national monuments. The Commission will require the inspectorate authorities to check up on the activities of the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport, which were the subject of criticism by both the Islamic Community and the Zahum-Herzegovina-Primorje Eparchy.