Meeting with Ms. Susan Johnson, the Brčko District Supervisor
The meeting in the OHR Office in the Brčko District was held on 06 November 2004, at . The meeting was attended by Amra Hadžimuhamedović, Tina Wik, Zeynep Ahunbay, Mirela Mulalić Handan and Susan Johnson.
Amra Hadžimuhamedović exemplified the case of the Gradaščevića tower in Bijela, and the owner’s intention to rent the plot to the Chinese. It is necessary for the Government of the Brčko District to draw up an appropriate draft design or a programme of more extensive integration of the area into the protection programme, by means of organizing of the ethno-festivals or the similar events.
She informed the present on the opening of the Exhibition of the Commission in Brčko, of the preceding exhibitions of the Commission and plans to set the Exhibition in Tuzla, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the European Culture Convention, and in Belgrade.
She mentioned of her being informed, at the meeting in the Government of the Brčko District, of the tenders announced for the Azizija mosque in Brezovo Polje and the Kočića house in Brčko, and the companies chosen to prepare design documentation, and that the selection of designer for the Town hall in Brčko.had not been finished yet.
Susan Johnson said that the OHR proposed to the Government of the Brčko District to employ external experts for the evaluation of the tenders, due to former inadequately conducted procedures and the inexperienced persons being the members of the evaluation committee. It occurred that the tenderers were not asked neither to submit the reference list nor the methodology of execution, which was unacceptable. The members of the evaluation committee were sometimes the members of the Government of the Brčko District, not extra paid for the tasks, although the funds existed for the external experts’ employment. The situation was similar when it came to adoption of decision, since the procedure was not conducted by the experts.
Amra Hadžimuhamedović said that after the case of the Azizija mosque in Brezovo Polje and the Kočića house in Brčko, it was agreed that the procedure be followed through by the Department for Urbanism, Real estate Affairs and Economic Development in the Government of the Brčko District. This procedure proved successful in the case of the Savska mosque in Brčko, when the Commission was handed over the design documentation for rehabilitation of the building for approval. The Commission had substantial remarks regarding the design, and decided that changes and amendments in the design documentation be discussed at the meeting with the designer and the Department for Urbanism, Real Estate Affairs and Economic Development of the Government of the Brčko District. For the services of revision of design documentation and the expert opinion the Department most commonly retained the Republic of Srpska Institute for Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage. Due to the fact that the Commission specifies protection measures in its decisions, it is requisite for the Commission to inspect design documentation, so it was agreed that the Commission be submitted a copy of design documentation.
Asked of the possibility of opening of the regional department of the Commission in Brčko, Amra Hadžimuhamedović informed on drawing up of the Law on Protection of the Cultural Heritage at the level of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which would, if adopted, extend the authorities of the Commission, and which would thereupon be liable for implementation of its decisions. The Commission proposed forming of the regional department to be financed from the Brčko District Budget. That department would cooperate with the Cultural Heritage without Borders, which employs experts and has possibilities to develop an extended capacity building project of Brčko.
Tina Wik said that for the purposes of the capacity building project, architecture or civil engineering experts were needed, particularly the experts at post-graduate studies, or that had recently graduated.
Amra Hadžimuhamedović said that the Commission would discuss the possibility and informed the Ambassador of Turkey on decaying of the building of the Consulate of Turkey in Brčko. The case is additionally complicated by the restitution law, which has not been adopted yet, so the owners are still unknown.
Zeynep Ahunbay mentioned the possibility of organizing a workshop for the students from Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina, who would inspect and survey the as-is condition of the building and prepare the documentation.
Susan Johnson mentioned the OHR’s insisting on solving the dwelling problem of Brčko. The first phase, which was aimed at the return of the refugees and restitution of the property taken during the war was practically complete, and now the time had come to enter the second phase, comprising defining of dwelling and social policy, in order to solve the problems of people living in inadequate alternative accommodation for 10 years or more. She communicated her being informed on completion of the urgent rehabilitation works at the Town hall, but could not notice any works to have been executed. She was of an opinion that the Government of the Brčko District should use the advantage of existing of such a body as the Commission, and to forward all designs to the Commission for approval and consent. She mentioned the building still being built opposite to the border crossing, which was not approved by her, regardless of fact that the Supervisor must give approval for usage of all public property buildings.
Amra Hadžimuhamedović stressed the fact of construction of block-buildings in the centre of Brčko, which caused the Town hall to lose all of its grandeur. She proposed to the Mayor of Brčko to use the advantage of Sonja Moser-Starrach’s relations in Wien in order to support the project of restoration of the Town hall in Brčko; support not being financial, but in regard of supply of the documentation kept in the archives in Wien, as well as of sustainable usage of the building. One part of the building might be used as the Museum of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. According to the conceptual architectural design of the Town hall, prepared by the Government of the Brčko District prior to announcing the tender procedure, the restaurants were planned, which is not suitable for such an interior. The building should preserve its representative value and openness to various events, thus not suitable for the Mayor’s Office, but might be used for official ceremonies, conferences and receptions.
Zeynep Ahunbay drew attention to the similar problem even in Wien, where the mortar is used at a number of buildings, at their exterior facades and decorations. Three years ago Wien was the host of the meeting of the European ICOMOS, conducting quality researches and issuing publications. She thought that the Department within the Ministry of Culture in Wien, responsible for the heritage, might have detailed analyses of such mortars, which are important elements in the restoration of the interiors, and that it would be recommendable for someone from the Department to visit Brčko and the Town hall.
Susan Johnson would discuss the details with the Mayor of the Brčko District regarding possibilities that the Government of the Brčko District finances, at least in the beginning, in the pilot phase, capacity building increase, namely, that the Government focuses on the support to various projects, to be financed from the budgetary funds. After the several years, the revision would have been performed, the situation recognized, and the future investing decided. There is a draft budget for the year 2005, drawn up by the former Government, but drawing up anew would be among the first tasks of the new Government. There is even the history of underestimated revenues. The Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) started managing the indirect taxation, central collection of revenues of indirect taxation, customs duties and turnover tax. Revenues plans were made for Bosnia and Herzegovina, for 2005, according to which considerable funds would be allocated to the Brčko District in 2005. In the budget for 2004, 750,000 KM was allocated for the Town hall, and it would be recommendable to transfer the funds unconsumed in 2004, to the budget for the following year.