In Sarajevo, the Director-General held bilateral talks with: Mr Haris Silajdžić, Mr Nebojša Radmanović and Željko Komšić, members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Mr Niko Lozancic and Mr Mladen Ivanic, Presidents of the Chamber of Representatives and the Chamber of Peoples of the Parliament respectively, and Mr Nikola Špirić, Chairman of the Council of Ministers.
The Director-General acknowledged the good progress made in UNESCO’s cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina since his first official visit to the country in June 2002. The country had two sites – the Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar and the historical monument Mehmed-paša Sokolović Bridge in Višegrad - inscribed on the World Heritage List. Mr Matsuura underscored the importance of preserving the outstanding universal value of the sites included in the List as well as taking preventive measures to safeguard the sites on the Tentative List.
The authorities informed the Director-General of the imminent ratification of the 2003 Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage by the country. Referring to the corps of seven UNESCO conventions in the field of culture, Mr Matsuura encouraged Bosnia and Herzegovina to ratify the other culture-related conventions, in particular the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.
The Director-General reiterated UNESCO’s commitment to the promotion of regional cooperation in South-East Europe. The sixth Heads of State Summit, organized under UNESCO’s auspices, will be hosted by the President of the Hellenic Republic in Athens in June 2008.
On 25 March, the Director-General visited the art collection ARS AEVI and the national library, and participated together with the members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Mr Miladin Miličević, Mayor of Višegrad, in the ceremony celebrating the inscription of Mehmed-paša Sokolović Bridge in Višegrad on the World Heritage List. In his speech at the ceremony, the Director-General stated that “recognition of the vital importance of shared cultural heritage is a step toward mutual understanding among the people of South-East Europe, and a step towards the sustainable socio-economic development of the communities and countries of the region.” He reiterated “UNESCO’s commitment to support the efforts of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to maintain their national integrity and the Government’s efforts to strengthen cooperation and dialogue with its neighbours, using its cultural heritage as a tool for the promotion of mutual understanding and development in the region.” At the closure of the ceremony, the Mayor of Višegrad declared the Director-General Honorary Citizen of Višegrad.
During his visit to Mostar, the Director-General met Mr Ljubo Bešlić, Mayor of Mostar, and received a certificate of Honorary Citizen of Mostar. Before his departure, Mr Matsuura visited the old bridge area of Mostar and participated in an event marking the launch of three restoration projects concerning the Orthodox Church of Mostar, the Ferhad Pasha Mosque of Banja Luka and the Franciscan Monastery of Plehan. UNESCO will carry out the restoration works as part of a larger UN project under the UNDP/Spain MDG Achievement Fund that aims to foster social cohesion through the enhancement of cross-cultural understanding and the promotion of cultural heritage.
Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 040-2008 - Publication Date: 31-03-2008