Ohrid hosted a meeting of Ministers of Macedonia, Montenegro, and Albania today, who discussed the implementation of activities and measures arising from the decisions of the World Heritage Committee concerning the Ohrid area in Macedonia and Kotor area in Montenegro. The meeting was also attended by the national commissions for cooperation with the UNESCO committee, the two cities' representatives, as well as the Albanian delegation, which has the status of observers.
The Albanian delegation attended the meeting in Ohrid to define guidelines for further cooperation, by UNESCO standards and recommendations, with the aim of nominating the extension of the protected area coverage to ensure the protection of the natural and cultural heritage part of the Ohrid region, which is a territorial part of Albania. The meeting is also attended by the Vice-President of the Municipality of Kotor, Branko Nedović, and the mayor of Ohrid, Jovan Stojanoski and representatives of other municipalities from the Ohrid region.
When we talk about the Ohrid area, one of the main objections of UNESCO at last year's session was a different management plan for the National Park Galičica, which the previous government began. In March this year, the current government abandoned the plan of change following UNESCO recommendations, making the National Park Galicica still a protected world heritage.
In 2017, the UNESCO Monitoring Mission called on Macedonia to introduce a moratorium on all coastal and urban transformations in the Ohrid area until the adoption of urban plans for 19 zones. The city administration called on the Ministry of Transport and Communications to take responsibility for the preparation of these plans.
The construction moratorium was introduced last year by the Montenegrin Government for the Kotor area, based on the Government Action Plan for meeting the UNESCO requirements, highlighted in 2016 in Istanbul. The Draft Decisions, to be adopted in Bahrain at the end of this month, require the extension of the moratorium until the completion of the analysis and alignment of all plans and legal solutions related to the protected area.
"The meeting in Ohrid is devoted to the common and similar policies and challenges of Macedonia and Montenegro when it comes to applying the Decision of the UNESCO Committee related to Ohrid and Kotor. Since the areas cover a fairly large space and that mass tourism and accelerated urbanization create pressures on the natural and cultural heritage of both areas, several projects are labeled as factors that negatively affect the exceptional universal value. Significant progress has been made on the introduction of UNESCO policies by the two states and municipalities managing the area, and it was estimated that it was a good time to have such a meeting, exchange experiences and further establish commitment to meeting the Committee's decisions”, explains the secretary of the National Commission for Cooperation with the UNESCO Committee of Montenegro, Milica Nikolić.
"Ohrid recently received a draft of a Management Plan that was rated as an extremely high-quality document, which I believe will serve as the concept of the Kotor Management Plan's revision process, which is the process that follows to be done in Montenegro. Also, Montenegro has introduced a moratorium on the territory, which also inspired colleagues from Macedonia to do the same. There are important infrastructural plans in both areas that we are concerned about, so it is good that such a meeting is organized so that decision-makers at national and local levels, experts, national commissions exchange experiences and common forces with the most acceptable solutions. What is certainly important is not to undermine the development of any area, but to seek the protection of universal values and that it is only about finding a proper relationship with that protection," explained Ohrid Milica Nikolic, secretary of the National Commission, as well as the National Office for Cooperation with the UNESCO Committee.
The cooperation of Ohrid and Kotor was officially established in April this year, when the UNESCO cities, Kotor, Ohrid, Dubrovnik, and Mostar - at the margins of the World Heritage Cities Board of Directors Meeting - signed the Charter of Friendship as an initial step in future cooperation. The two cities share not only UNESCO status, but also the fact that protection does not only apply to city centers, but also to the wider area, which significantly complicates the issues of management and coordination of various factors involved in the protection of the area. The Mayor of Kotor, Vladimir Jokić, expects that a meeting involving representatives of the competent national institutions will deepen and concretize the cooperation of the two countries, particularly in the field of harmonization of legal regulations for the protection of the universal values of space and spatial planning, resulting in the highest number of problems for the Ohrid and Kotor regions when it comes to survival on the UNESCO World Natural and Cultural Heritage list.