ICOMOS Expresses Concern About Bulgaria's Cultural Heritage
In a letter to the Bulgarian authorities, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) expressed its concern about the country's endangered cultural heritage.
During its latest meeting in March, the international ICOMOS board was informed by the Bulgarian National Committee of ICOMOS about worrying trends in current policy approaches to conservation and restoration of cultural heritage sites in the country.
According to the report, these approaches had considerably and visibly endangered a number of cultural monuments in Bulgaria.
ICOMOS was particularly concerned that these policies could negatively affect the Bulgarian cultural properties designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The organisation understood that these approaches were motivated by an effort to support regional development by increasing cultural tourism.
However this had resulted in a large-scale conjecture-based reconstructions on top of the ruins of archaeological sites, which had compromised the authenticity of the monuments.
ICOMOS warned that the replacement of original structures falsified history and could prevent further scientific research.
According to the organisation, such reconstructions violated the internationally accepted scientific approaches to conservation.
ICOMOS called on Bulgaria to take three steps in ensuring a sustainable policy in the field of heritage protection, which is based on internationally acknowledged principles of conservation.
Firstly, Bulgaria should end the ongoing conjecture-based reconstructions and ensure that all future conservation and restoration works in the country proceed according to accepted principles.
Next, the country should guarantee the involvement of experts in the national procedures for calls for tender under the EU operational programmes.
Lastly, Bulgaria should establish a continuous training programme in the field of heritage conservation directed at improving the capacity of local authorities.
ICOMOS expressed its willingness to help Bulgarian cultural authorities and its readiness to organise an on-site mission to the country.
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