Meeting of South-eastern European Countries on
World Cultural Heritage
‘World Cultural Heritage of South Eastern Europe: Co-operation in the management of cultural sites & landscapes. A follow-up to the Periodic Reporting Exercise for Europe’
Thessalonica, 11 & 12 December 2006
Organizer - Hellenic Ministry of Culture and the European Centre of Byzantine & Post Byzantine Monuments (EKBMM)
Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina - Ms. Mirela Mulalic Handan, Commission of Bosnia-Herzegovina to preserve national monuments
Evaluation of the results of the Periodic Reporting Exercise for the countries of the southeast Europe regional group: Strengths and weaknesses. Suggestions for the future
This meeting aimed at the exchange of views and ideas between the national coordinators (focal points) and government officials of the countries belonging to geographical units that are different from those of the World Heritage Centre. To be more precise, Turkey and Greece belong to the Mediterranean group, while the remaining countries that participated belong to the southeast Europe regional group. The meeting aimed at combining the follow-up to the periodic control exercise for World Heritage Monuments in southeast Europe with the grouping of countries participating in the initiative of UNESCO for southeast Europe since April 2002. The region of southeast Europe currently encompasses 51 inscribed monuments, 92 monuments included in the Tentative Lists and 1 monument in danger (medieval monuments in Kosovo). According to the detailed analysis and assessment presented yesterday by Mrs. Roessler, the review for the countries of southeast Europe has shown that it is necessary:
- To elaborate the concept of outstanding universal value.
- To prepare the necessary statement of significance for all monuments lacking one (old inscriptions).
- To improve co-ordination in funding.
- To encourage the participation of the local community.
- To hold specialised seminars (workshops) and to prepare special handbooks with instructions.
- To build co-ordination between research foundations working on World Cultural Heritage.
- To develop a management plan for all monuments lacking one, considering that only 18 monuments out of the 51 inscribed in the area covered by the meeting possess such a plan.
- To improve communication between the governments, the local society, the World Heritage Centre and UNESCO.
- To achieve balanced representation in the Tentative List of those types of monuments that are not adequately represented (e.g. natural, industrial).
1st session - Management of Tentative Lists: Strengthening regional cooperation through the exchange of knowledge and experience
Regular periodic revision of the lists so that: a) they keep in line with the operational guidelines of 2005, and b) there is balanced representation of all types of monuments (natural, agricultural, industrial, cultural landscapes)
Co-operation for the promotion of transboundary, transnational nominations (e.g. Prespes) and serial nominations.
Improvement and extension of co-operation between national coordinators (focal points) for the revision of the Tentative Lists and for contact between the states, involving regular meetings and internet communication.
Meetings of the southeast Europe regional group with the Mediterranean group.
Conservation and enhancement works and, if possible, development of a preliminary management plan for the monuments and landscapes on the Tentative List, so that stepping into the inscription process can be prepared.
UNESCO should include in its website the files of the monuments on the Tentative Lists, as such a publication can be used for comparisons by countries wishing to establish new files or improve already submitted ones.
2nd session - The participation of the local community and the strategies for cultural tourism as factors in social cohesion and economic development
The cultural tourism domain is a pressing issue for all countries of southeast Europe. It is nonetheless certain that it has not been adequately developed, while no solid policy exists. The concept, the aim and the content of cultural tourism probably ought to be elaborated, along with the audience that it concerns.
It is necessary to adopt not only quantitative, but also qualitative criteria, to take into consideration the resistance of monuments to the damage that is, of necessity, caused by tourist over-exploitation, to ensure long-term benefits for the local society so that social cohesion is strengthened, to highlight the special character of each monument and, finally, to support its protection. Cultural tourism can contribute to the promotion of education, to familiarization with cultural diversity, to respect for variety, to conscious enjoyment of the cultural property and to improvement of the quality of the citizens' every-day life.
Sensitisation of the populace to the importance of World Cultural Heritage with educational programmes designed for the student community, but also for special types of audiences, with the simplified publication of monuments, the distribution of informational material in schools, hotels and large companies and most importantly by placing the World Heritage Emblem on the monuments, as well as on the relevant informational - tourist publications and websites (after permission of the World Heritage Centre).
Use of the monuments for low-impact events of educational or artistic character that address wider social strata.
Implementation of specific measures for the development of sustainable tourism, which will boost the economy without harming or degrading the monuments and their setting (thematic tourism, cultural routes etc).
Organization of a seminar with the participation of the World Heritage Centre on the processing of the above proposals and the co-ordination of relevant activities.
3rd session - Best practice in cultural heritage management and protection. Presentation of a case study
It is necessary to establish a code of conduct for conservation and restoration interventions, as well as for the uses that can be and are allowed to be accommodated in the monuments of southeast Europe, so that their historic essence and authenticity is preserved.
Conduct of seminars with the participation of the World Heritage Centre that will address the preparation of management plans for the monuments, the processing of the code of conduct and the search for best practices in terms of interventions and uses.
Organization of a meeting for the presentation of the legislative framework governing the protection of monuments in each country and for the exchange of views on alignment with the international legislative framework.
In conclusion, it is evident that in the last few years there is vigorous activity in our region both in terms of interstate programmes and international meetings. It is therefore necessary to ensure good co-ordination and regular supervision of these initiatives so that solid results can be achieved.