Meeting with the press concerning the display of the
cultural heritage of B&H through the media
The meeting was held on 01 September 2004 at 14.00hrs in the Labour Union Centre in Sarajevo. The meeting was attended by Commission members and staff, and by: Mirsada Lingo from «Nezavisne novine»; Nermina Omerbegović from FENA; Nenad Glušica, NTV 99; Vesna Pleho, «San», Nadina Salijević, FTV; Naida Karahodžić, magazine «Start»; and Alenka Bruck, TV OBN.
The Chair noted the significant support of the media in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the previous work of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, as well as their contribution to raise the cultural heritage to the level of a general theme in written and electronic media. From the other hand, the Commission expected the journalists to comment and suggest further possibilities to improve the media display of the cultural heritage, as well as to raise the awareness in the public of the ways for the protection of heritage and its significance in establishing long-lasting peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Amra Hadžimuhamedović emphasized that from the very beginning the Commission insisted on the guide principles of publicity and transparency, credited with the media. After two years of work, the Commission came to the point where the projects may be initiated, giving to the whole programme of preservation of the cultural heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina more palpable shape. The essential issue, however, was the line of communication between the media and the Commission. It was very often that the Commission was informed by the press on endangerment of property, a case of which was the destruction of harem of Nezir-aga’s mosque in Mostar, which had been turned prior to the old bridge of Mostar opening ceremony to the parking lot (harem had been totally dug out, the remains (bones) and pieces of valuable tombstones from the 16th century had been crushed with excavators and transported to the city waste). The press had an extremely important role in informing the representatives of the local authorities, as well as the landowners on the case, after which the Commission started with its orderly procedure. Ms. Hadžimuhamedović further informed that the Commission, among its significant projects, plans to establish a documentation centre, comprising a plan library, library, photograph library and a video library. The project was drafted and presented to the European Council, which decided to, thanks to project’s credit, give Bosnia and Herzegovina priority in line A. Capacity and Institutional Building Programme of protection of natural and cultural heritage in the region of South-Eastern Europe. Project is based on gathering information from the journalists in the archives or the documentation centre of the Commission. It is necessary to find the way to relocate the archives holdings from the archives of media centres to the documentation centre of the Commission, in order to be used for drafting of decisions and developing of projects. Moreover, it is of extreme importance to start media projects in the field of protection of the heritage. She exemplified her claim with the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Radio, which in a regular basis broadcasted programmes on some of the most endangered property. The Commission is apt to contribute with available archives, materials, and documentation to the projects, in order to raise awareness in the public of the heritage. She informed the present that within the European Council Programme, titled: Programme for protection of cultural and natural heritage in the South-Eastern Europe, line B: Integrated rehabilitation of architectural and archaeological heritage in the South-Eastern Europe, each country from the region specified the List of priorities, the projects of which were presented in the name of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the publication of the European Council
Ljiljana Ševo emphasized that the Commission, notwithstanding its sessions held every other month, worked incessantly, but that the activities of the Commission and the protection of the national monuments were not adequately presented in the media in the period between two successive sessions. The activities of the Commission between two successive sessions include researching for the purpose of drawing up draft decisions to designate the property as a national monument, but also a constant struggle to protect the property endangered by human ignorance or malice, therefore it is necessary to write up more of the communication between the Commission and all the Bosnia and Herzegovina institutions responsible for protection of the heritage. She mentioned that the RTV of the Republika Srpska broadcasted several series with the subject of the protection of the heritage, which were not associated with the Commission’s activities.
Dubravko Lovrenović mentioned that the daily newspapers «San» presented the monuments for which the Commission had adopted the decisions to designate, and that the magazine «Start» showed initiative to display through media the cultural heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is only a way the media can contribute to the activities of the Commission. It is necessary, though, for the electronic media to participate more in the protection of the cultural heritage.
Nenad Glušica called attention to the fact that the NTV 99 broadcasts a 50-minute programme on Saturdays, referred to as «Mozaik» dealing with the themes of the current interest (Jajce, Mostar, Počitelj and the similar), and he took the opportunity to invite all the members of the Commission to take part in this programme. It is very important to identify the way to influence the public awareness when it comes to the protection of the cultural and historical monuments.
Dubravko Lovrenović remarked that drawing up of draft law on cultural heritage for the Bosnia and Herzegovina is under way. The law should extend the current Commission’s jurisdiction, both legal and financial in matter, and the support of media is extremely important for successful closing of the process.
Amra Hadžimuhamedović noted that a number of fragments from the Aladža mosque was found in the mass grave near the house of correction in Foča. The expert associates of the Commission visited the site and brought some fragments to the Commission’s offices. What was essential here was how the Commission would provide funds for saving the fragments, being the national monuments themselves. By employing the media it is necessary to exert a sort of pressure to the Council of Ministers, the Entities’ Governments, and the Presidency to provide the Commission with the instruments for their operations, such as the equipment and labour, as well as the funds applied for the expert supervisors.
Ljiljana Ševo emphasized that the Commission produced the List of Endangered Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and if the media presented the certain issues in relation to the cultural heritage more consistently and often, it would stir the local authorities, property owners or the responsible institutions to take appropriate protection measures. She gave examples of collapsing of the southern rampart of the Kastel castle, decay of icon holdings in the Orthodox church in Livno due to damp, and the monastery Vozuća.
Mirsada Lingo mentioned the problems the journalists meet in collecting the materials, in cases of inappropriate reception from the part of the authorities, and incapability to obtain information from the responsible ministers. She was of an opinion that the situation would change following the adoption of the law extending the Commission’s jurisdiction.
Amra Hadžimuhamedović called attention to the important contribution of the media in the campaign of the protection of Mehmed-pasha Sokolović’s bridge in Višegrad, after which the divers inspected the structure, and the Government of the Republic of Srpska expressed its willingness to earmark considerable funds to be applied for the protection in the following year.
Dubravko Lovrenović noted that, in accordance with Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Entity Governments are responsible for implementation of Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments. However, the problem was the Entity Governments, who, while setting the priority monuments, for which finances for restoration, rehabilitation, and reconstruction were to be earmarked, did not honour the priorities set by the Commission. It was because of this that the jurisdiction of the Commission was necessary to be extended, and the funds be provided for implementation of the Decisions. He exemplified the claim with Jajce Municipality, investing sizeable funds in restoration of the cultural heritage, and where the Society for protection of cultural, historical, and natural values of Jajce was founded. It is essential that the media give more reports on such positive examples of protection of the cultural heritage.
Ljiljana Ševo mentioned the case when the newspapers published a short article on construction, instead of the reconstruction of Dolačka (hajji Omer’s) mosque in Banja Luka. The mosque was destroyed in 1993, and the Commission adopted a decision to designate the site and remains of the mosque as national monuments, which regulated the protection measures pertaining to honouring the authentic dimensions, materials, shapes, and the similar during the reconstruction. The journalist working on the article did not take into consideration the decision adopted by the Commission and the fact that the site and remains enjoy protection as a national monument, namely, he did not respect the Commission’s actions. In certain cases, the Commissions shows understanding even for the actions like this, only if the process of return of the dislocated population is under way, so they have a need for the place of worship, and therefore cannot wait for the existing building to be rehabilitated. She proceeded in exemplifying the reconstruction of the Room 16 in the City Administration Building (Ban’s administration) in Banja Luka as completely illicit; the Mayor of Banja Luka had been informed, the Inspection had stopped the works, the removal of the executed works had been requested, however a few days ago the Mayor officially opened the Room 16, and media reported on the ceremony, without mentioning that the national monument had been damaged, due to the fact that the building is on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina. She pointed out the positive examples of rehabilitation of the monuments as well, such as constructive rehabilitation and rehabilitation of frescoes in the church of the Zavala monastery (the works have been executed during the past three or four years, with the support of the organization – Cultural Heritage without Borders, with participation of the experts from the Institute for protection of monuments within the Federation of B&H Ministry of Culture and Sports, as well as the Institute for protection of the cultural, historical and natural heritage of the Republic of Srpska), the rehabilitation of the church and shelter of the monastery Žitomislići, the rehabilitation of the Old bridge in Mostar, and the similar.
At the question referring to the removal of crosses in the Old town of Stolac, Amra Hadžimuhamedović informed on OHR’s direct responsibility regarding supervision of implementation of Annex 8, and in the case of obstruction the High Representative had a mechanism to prevent the actions of the subjects causing the obstructions. The removal of crosses was the responsibility of the Federation of B&H Minister for Regional Planning and Environment, but the Mayor of Stolac was directly connected with the destruction of the centre of Stolac (not a long time ago, in Ada near the Bregava branch, in the protected area, which is in the Provisional list of national monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a fence was erected, entirely in opposition to the protection principles of the ensemble). After the Commission is informed on the level of endangerment of the monument, no actions are taken until the expert associates visit the site, inspect the building and establish certain facts. In the case the Commission is not able, than the Entities’ Inspections are requested to perform the inspection supervision.
Naida Karahodžić emphasized the Commission should inform the media more regularly on its activities regarding the protection of the endangered heritage. The media should be supplied with information on decisions to designate the property a national monument, as well as on entering the properties the List of endangered monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Ljiljana Ševo said that the Public Broadcasting Service of Bosnia and Herzegovina no more informed on the Commission’s sessions, so that the Radio and Television of the Republic of Srpska had no possibility to broadcast the programme, since it was being taken from the PBS. The Commission should motivate the media from the Republic of Srpska to write up more extensively on its work.
Amra Hadžimuhamedović informed that the members of the Commission and the Secretariat spent two days of the session for visiting the municipalities and the monuments. For the next session, the Commission plans to visit Kladanj, Srebrenik, Tuzla, Brčko and Gradačac. Brčko will be a host of the exhibition «Cultural memory – the treasure that disappears». It was resolved the journalists be better informed on the visits by the Commission in the forthcoming period, and participate. The Government of Brčko District earmarked 2,000,000 KM in 2004 for the protection of the heritage. OHR Supervisor for Brčko District, Susanne Johnson, placed the implementation of Annex 8 and integration of the heritage into the rehabilitation of Brčko as one of the priorities. Tenders were announced for rehabilitation of three buildings designated by the Commission as the national monuments (Brčko City Hall, Kočića house and the Azizija mosque in Brezovo Polje), and announcing of one is expected for the tower of Hali-bey’s Gradašćević. Brčko District is the only to honour the decisions of the Commission’s completely.