Around 1,700 cultural facilities in region damaged during wars
02. September 2011. | 11:03
Source: Emg.rs, Tanjug
At least 1,700 cultural and religious facilities, some of which are on the UNESCO world heritage list, were damaged or destroyed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia, NATO bombing and riots in Kosovo 2004, according to incomplete data.During 78 days of NATO bombing in Serbia 1999, over 175 cultural monuments were damaged or destroyed.
At least 1,700 cultural and religious facilities, some of which are on the UNESCO world heritage list, were damaged or destroyed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia, NATO bombing and riots in Kosovo 2004, according to incomplete data.
UNESCO is set to hold a regional summit in Serbia September 2, which will focus on art and reconciliation.
There are also tens of thousands of pieces of artwork, icons and religious items missing, some of which possess great artistic value.
During 78 days of NATO bombing in Serbia 1999, over 175 cultural monuments were damaged or destroyed.
According to the national institute for protection of cultural heritage, 23 medieval monasteries and a large number of churches and other religious facilities throughout the country were damaged, including several mosques and Islamic cultural facilities in Djakovica, Pec and Prizren. The old centres of those three cities were also damaged.
The Gracanica monastery sustained damage as well. It is now on the UNESCO world heritage list.
NATO bombed the Banovina building in Novi Sad, designed by architect Dragisa Brasovan and the headquarters of the government and Foreign Affairs Ministry, designed by Nikolaj Krasnov. The Vojlovica monastery, near Pancevo, was hit as well.
During the conflict in Kosovo, three registered Turkish and two Albanian cultural monuments were damaged. They belonged to the first and second category. By the end of June 1999, 76 cultural monuments were damaged in Kosovo, with 71 of them being Serbian.
A third of Serbia's cultural heritage was destroyed, damaged or in danger by May 2001.
There are 372 cultural monuments in Kosovo that have been registered according to international standards. The territory also has over 1,300 remains of Christian monuments, which is the result of the fact that it was the centre of medieval Serbia.
From NATO's arrival in June 1999 until May 2001, a total of 107 religious facilities were destroyed, almost all of them were Serbian.
According to the data provided by the Serbian Orthodox Church, the 2004 riots in Kosovo resulted in 35 religious facilities being set on fire or otherwise damaged, of which 18 were cultural monuments. The Devic monastery, the sleeping quarters of the Archangels' Monastery and the Bogorodica Ljeviska church were completely destroyed. The Bogorodica Ljeviska church was later entered on the UNESCO world heritage list.
According to a research by Slobodan Mileusnic, former head of the Serbian Orthodox Church Museum in Belgrade, 438 Orthodox facilities were destroyed or damaged during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Around 300 of those are churches and monasteries located in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Out of 10 diocese headquarters in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, 7 were destroyed - shelled or demolished, with 6 of them being in Croatia and 1 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mostar. A Church in Mostar was also blown up.
Around 7,000 icons are thought to be missing from Orthodox churches in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Catholic Church states that at least 450 of its churches were damaged or destroyed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia.
The Islamic community cites at least 650 damaged or destroyed Islamic facilities, of which 38 are mosques located in Sarajevo.
Many of the religious facilities have great historical value, and most of them were not destroyed as part of combat operations, but in the aftermath, as part of ethnic cleansing.
Harvard scholar Andras Riedlmayer testified, as an expert witness, on destruction of Bosnia's cultural heritage before the ICTY several times, and according to his data 985 mosques were damaged or demolished.
During the 1990s conflicts in BiH, numerous Christian churches also suffered a sustainable damage. In the SPC Diocese of Zahumlje and Herzegovina, 28 churches were torn down, including the one in the village of Prebilovci, which was put up a year before to commemorate the site where the Croatian Ustasha killed a huge number of Serbs.
The monastery of Zitomislic was burnt down, and the Zavala monastery seriously damaged, 12 libraries and 21 church archives were destroyed.
In the 1990s conflicts, among other things, paramilitary formations destroy the Old Bridge in Mostar, the symbol of the city, which was later rebuilt.
For Dubrovnik, which is on the World Cultural Heritage List, UNESCO prepared a special reconstruction plan for the monuments heritage damaged in 1991 and 1992.
The Croatian State Committee for War Damage Assessment noted that the cost of the damage inflicted upon the cultural heritage amounts to USD 3 billion. The committee claims that 1,426 Roman Catholic churches were damaged or destroyed in that country.
The similar committee in BiH estimates the value of war damage in that country at USD 10-12 billion. One-fifths of the amount refers to Sarajevo, which is followed by Mostar.
In its lawsuit against Serbia before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, besides the charges for alleged genocide, Croatia also listed the alienation of the cultural heritage. According to their data, 30,000 items of cultural, historical and archeological material should be returned to Croatia.
Icons, liturgical and other objects from the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches were evacuated from the war zones by members of Serbia's crisis staff, curators or experts on their own initiative during the conflicts.
The Regional Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments in Vojvodina noted that the major part comprising about 20, 000 items which were kept in the Novi Sad City Museum, was returned to Vukovar and the surrounding area in late 2001.