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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)


The Commission to Preserve National Monuments celebrated its first year of operations with a multimedia presentation and reception on 5 May 2003 in the Konak building of the Presidency of BiH.  The Commission's intention was to draw attention to the extent to which the cultural and historical heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina is endangered, and its importance in establishing sustainable peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The work of the Commission over the past year was presented, along with protected monuments, endangered monuments and publicity material (posters, postcards, diaries, calendars and so on).



              The Speech of Ms.Amra Hadžimuhamedović, Commission Chair



             Members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Excellencies, Mr Senior Deputy High Representative, dear friends, ladies and gentlemen,


             I greet you with words of peace on behalf of my colleagues, members of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and thank you for being with us this evening on this particularly happy occasion.  I should like to underline that this is not a celebration of one year's heritage preservation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The preservation of the cultural and historical heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina has already been a formal reality for 230 years.  However, the work of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments is part of the implementation of stable, durable peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and following the establishment of the Commission, on 22 December 2001, as a State institution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, by Decision of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it has become the state institution concerned with the preservation of the major heritage properties of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and part of the system of institutions some of which are more than a century old.


This is an opportunity for me, on behalf of my colleagues, to draw attention to the importance of the involvement of the Presidency of  Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Chairman and members of the Council of Ministers of BiH, and the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the implementation of Annex 8, and to thank them for their immeasurable contribution to shaping the strategy for our work.  I should also like to thank the ministries of regional planning and the environment and the inspection services of the Entities and Brčko District for recognizing in the implementation of Annex 8 one of the priorities in establishing the framework for the sustainable development of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  I am grateful, too, to the museums, archives, institutes for the protection of the cultural heritage, galleries, and all the owners of the cultural heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina for their efforts in preserving the heritage and for their collaboration with the Commission.  Our work relies heavily on the operations and documentation of those institutions.  I should particularly like to highlight our collaboration with the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina, an institution that since 1946 has been performing the difficult task of integrating the heritage into development trends and of preserving the identity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The documentation held by the Institute is very often the basis for the adoption of decisions by the Commission.  This documentation too, like the work of the Institute, is part of our cultural memory, and the awareness of the general responsibility for preserving and enjoying it must be present and entrenched in the law.

Although you will see at this evening's exhibition only the heritage that has been the subject of our deliberations and decisions over the past year, neither this evening's gathering nor the exhibition represents the year's work of the Commission.  It is merely a snapshot of the wealth of our heritage, and of the disgrace of the failure to uphold our responsibilities towards it.


For the members of the Commission and all the experts employed in the Secretariat, this evening's event is the beginning of the dissemination of news that is not new, but is all too often hushed up or ignored.  I do not know how to say in a sufficiently novel and convincing way that the heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina is endangered so that my words will reverberate with the full malevolence that the threat carries with it.  The rich heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina is in danger of disappearing altogether.  The ravages of war, the ravages too of the post-war period, neglect, the ideological reshaping of cultural memory all threaten to extinguish that memory.  And when cultural memory disappears, the community that fosters it disappears too.  So Agnes Heller tells us, and history confirms it.  In the post-communist, post-war era of recovery, the concept of the importance of the heritage in maintaining social patterns becomes more important than the heritage itself.  The preservation of the non-material dimension – the symbolical and the ontological – in the meaning of the heritage has become a matter of the survival of the identity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its dignified reintegration into Europe.


            Tonight the Commission to Preserve National Monuments is launching a campaign to save the endangered heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  It is a debt we owe to ourselves, our forebears, and our heirs.  It is also a debt we owe to Europe; and a debt Europe owes to itself.  Further, it is part of the debt the world owes to us and itself.  Disseminating the truth about the heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of the heritage of the world as a whole, and about its disappearance, is the start of that campaign.

             The exhibition that has been put together by the team of experts from the Commission to Preserve the National Heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and which will go on display in all the cities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in the World Bank and UN headquarters, is designed to convey our message and to make our endangered heritage headline news.

I invite you to join our campaign, and thank you for your understanding.


              I should now like to ask Mr Donald Hayes, Senior Deputy High Representative, to tell us something about the importance of Annex 8 in peacekeeping as a whole in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  I shall then request Mr Borislav Paravac, President of the Presidency of  Bosnia and Herzegovina, to open the exhibition.




The Speech of Mr.Donalda Haysa, Senior Deputy High Representative



Member of the Presidency Mr. Borislav Paravac

Chairperson Ms. Amra Hadzimuhamedovic

Members of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments

Ladies and Gentleman,  

On the High Representative’s behalf, and on my own behalf, may I extend warmest congratulations to everyone here this evening – and particularly to the Commissioners. We are here to mark the first anniversary of the Annex Eight Commission beginning its work as a state-level institution.


The Dayton Peace Agreement ended the war; it also addressed the mechanics of postwar recovery. Annex Eight is crucial in this respect, for two reasons.

             First and foremost -- recovery needs reconciliation. Where there’s a will there’s a way – and the continuation of wartime hatred and resentment and bitterness and anger all make it more difficult to develop the political will to get things done in BiH. Restoring monuments is a task that directly addresses the legacy of bitterness and systematically diminishes it. By rebuilding monuments we dismantle grounds for continuing anger.

              Secondly, this work is fraught with potential difficulties, which can take on a life of their own and derail the broader political process. Assembling the political and legal and practical consensus to rebuild individual monuments requires dedication, firmness, clear benchmarks and a commitment to justice -- because opponents of reconciliation in BiH, those who would condemn their fellow citizens to repeat the tragic failures of the recent past, have sought to sabotage this consensus building at every step. They have sought to make it a new kind of battleground, a source of political dislocation and communal ill feeling.


             And it is because the Annex Eight Commission has done its job effectively that these opponents of reconciliation and reintegration have not succeeded.


The Commission’s work has a direct bearing on the success of efforts to increase the momentum of refugee return, to foster the rule of law and to protect minority rights. Its work will determine whether or not Bosnia and Herzegovina becomes a normal European democracy. I believe BiH is indeed becoming a normal country. That is why the OHR and the International Community as a whole remain committed to the work of the Annex Eight Commission and will continue to offer it whatever support it needs.


And I believe that Annex Eight is now receiving more attention from the BiH authorities, who have come round to the view that this is not an area that can be put on the back burner while apparently more pressing political and economic concerns are attended to – Annex Eight is central to the success of all other areas of postwar development.


The process of Annex Eight implementation has been strongly reinforced by the High Representative’s Decisions harmonising Entity rules and regulations regarding construction permits, time limits and legal recourse. Effective legal instruments have been made available for the resolution of problem cases, especially where local authorities need advice and assistance, or where there is evidence of deliberate bureaucratic obstruction. 

             The scale of work connected to implementing Annex Eight is formidable. There are almost 800 buildings and sites on the Commission’s provisional list. The Commission, consisting of three national and two international members and supported by a small staff of experts, is doing its work diligently and professionally. It has faced its fair share of difficulties, especially when it comes to implementation of its Decisions – and that is an area where the Commissioners are entitled to demand the support of the highest political authorities. Let me take this opportunity to make it very clear that the International Community expects that that support will be forthcoming.


Thank you.





























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