Wednesday, January 30, 2008


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (January 30,2008) - The Bosnian Presidency held a special meeting yesterday in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) threatened to remove the Old Bridge in Mostar from its world heritage list.More than six months ago UNESCO warned the Bosnian authorities they should stop building of the Ruza (Rose) Hotel near the UNESCO's flagged bridge and the old centre of the southern Bosnian city of Mostar.

The hotel near the bridge in the eastern side of the city was destroyed during the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia.

The reconstruction of the hotel was not a problem for UNESCO, but concern was over the decision of the city's authorities to build additional floors that would visually damage the image of the Old Bridge.

UNESCO therefore set the beginning of February this year as the deadline for Bosnia's authorities to offer a solution, threatening to start the procedure of dropping off the Old Bridge from the world heritage list. The bridge was added to the list in 2005.

"We have decided that Bosnia will fully comply with the requests of UNESCO and will fulfil those requests so that the Old Bridge remains on the world heritage list," the Bosnian Presidency said in a statement after the meeting.

"I am happy that the state decided to stand behind this problem ... and agreed to fulfil all UNESCO's requests," head of the Bosnian State Commission for cooperation with UNESCO Slobodan Soja said after the meeting.

He also said the Bosnian officials, including the Mostar city authorities, also agreed to stop rebuilding the Ruza hotel and dismantle the disputed fourth floor.

The Old Bridge in Mostar was built in 1566 during the Ottoman Empire rule in Bosnia, being a rare sample of architectural and artistic beauty for more than four centuries.

The bridge was destroyed by the Croatian aggressor on November 9, 1993, during the Croatian aggression against Bosnia in the early 1990's, but was completely reconstructed and reopened in 2004.

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