Bulgaria Anticipates Anxiously UNESCO Decisions on World Heritage
The Bulgarian authorities and society are anxious about the results of a UNESCO meeting taking place in Brazil's capital Brasilia which could have important impact on the status of the country's recognized World Heritage sites.
The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization will take 10 days to discuss including new sites to its list and also removing a number of sites over problems with the maintenance of their status.
Delegates from 193 nations which are signatories of the 1972 World Heritage Convention will participate in the meeting in which 32 new sites are nominated to become part of the recognized world heritage, while 32 sites are in danger of losing their status.
Bulgaria will be represented by a government delegation led by Deputy Culture Minister Todor Chobanov. It is applying to expand the territory of one of its already existing World Heritage sites – the Pirin National Park. However, its major concern is the fate of the Ancient City of Nessebar, which is threatened of losing its UNESCO status.
“The international community is pointing to us as a bad example, and it is our responsibility to realize the seriousness of the situation. The illegal construction and commercial activities in Nessebar are threatening its UNESCO World Heritage status,” said Bulgaria's Deputy Culture Minister Chobanov before setting off to Brasilia.
He criticized the local community in Nessebar and the authorities for allowing uncontrolled construction and overdevelopment of the unique Old Town located on small Black Sea peninsula. An unresolved controversy about a much disputed project to construct a dolphinarium right in the middle of the Old Town might exacerbate the existing problems.
The Nessebar Mayor Nikolay Dimitrov has told bTV he did not agree with the claims that the Old Town resembled an open market, and that the municipality did not have the right to ban trade located on private property.
The main argument of the Bulgarian delegation in defense of the unique status of Nessebar will be that the authorities have identified the problem and are already taking measures to rectify the issues with the illegal construction and the haphazardly located stalls of street traders.
In addition to defending Nessebar, Bulgaria is asking to UNESCO to expand the protected area of the Pirin National Park. The initiative for that came from environmental NGOs, which see the UNESCO status as an additional guarantee against potential illegal resort construction in the protected territories.
The currently recognized UNESCO World Heritage sites in Bulgaria include: (cultural) Ancient City of Nessebar (1983); Boyana Church (1979); Madara Rider (1979); Rila Monastery (1983); Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo (1979); Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak (1979); Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari (1985); and (natural) Pirin National Park (1983) and Srebarna Nature Reserve (1983).
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