February 28, 2019 - Excessive urbanization and some key government plans are a severe threat to Boka Bay, according to UNESCO and ICOMOS experts in the Report on the State of Natural and Cultural Historical Area of Kotor, based on the findings of a joint reactive mission visited Kotor at the end of October last year.
The Report concludes that the state and local government have taken many measures in the last period to meet the requirements of UNESCO and prevent the Kotor area due to the loss of exceptional universal values from being erased from the World Heritage List.
However, the construction moratorium in the area did not help to prevent new devastation, which encouraged the Montenegrin Government, arguing that projects such as the beach construction in Dobrota at the beginning of last year had given the green light to earlier plans.
In its guidelines, UNESCO and ICOMOS are seeking alignment of the Kotor's Spatial-Urban Plan, which is under preparation, with the Management Plan of the Kotor Area, as well as the improvement of administrative mechanisms that will enable the Kotor Area Management Council to provide greater incentive and implementation of these recommendations in practice.
The Report treated all "painful points" in the landscape of the Kotor-Risan Bay. Thus, for a restaurant on the Turkish Cape, approved by the Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Property as a "Temporary Building," UNESCO and ICOMOS require an explicit restriction of the duration.
In their report, they support the efforts of the Kotor administration, headed by Mayor Vladimir Jokić, as well as the NGO sector, which are opposed to further devastation of the Gulf. In the Report, the experts of the World Heritage Committee explicitly recommend the abandonment of many new construction projects, as well as the controversial infrastructure projects advocated by the Montenegrin Government, such as the Verige bridge.
The Montenegrin government has again raised the question of building a bridge, for which world experts say it is unacceptable and should finally be rejected. They recognize the problem of traffic infrastructure in Boka Bay, but they suggest considering an alternative bridge location, or an utterly alternative solution, such as building an underwater tunnel.
They recommend that the draft of the Spatial Urban Plan of Kotor completely abolish the proposal for the construction of new roads along the Vrmac Mountain and above Kostanjica, the development of the overpasses above Risan, as well as any further urbanization along the hills surrounding the Kotor- Risan Bay.
The report welcomes the Mayor Jokic's decision not to embark on a project for the construction of a cable car along the hill St. Giovanni, who are looking for a Heritage Impact Assessment - HIA, as well as not allowing development of tourist facilities around the Austro-Hungarian fortress in Vrmac.
The UNESCO-ICOMOS mission report analyzes a lot of controversies in the country's irresponsible relationship to the area, recommending the abolition of any further urbanization of Morinj and Kostanjica as well as the site of Glavati. For the already built Boka Gardens complex in Kostanjica
, experts are looking for activities to reduce its negative visual impact by removing the fake historical tower.
The development of the Spatial Urban Plan of Kotor is underway, and according to the new Law on Spatial Planning and Construction of Facilities, the competent Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism is in charge.
Kotor has been waiting for this document since 2015, as the Department for the Protection of Cultural Property has consistently obstructed the adoption of the Cultural Property Study for this plan. It was during this period that some of the most catastrophic devastations in the protected area occurred.
According to its policy, UNESCO requires insight into this document, in which all relevant recommendations highlighted in the Reactive Mission Report have to be incorporated.
Milica Nikolic: We were looking for a Reactive UNESCO / ICOMOS Mission to Get Concrete Recommendations
The Secretary of the National Office in cooperation with the UNESCO Committee and the National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO, Milica Nikolic, for TMN explains:
"The state called for a reactive monitoring mission based on all previous activities and our estimates that we need suggestions to go further with all the complex issues that were imposed in the previous period, which were further intensified by the adoption of the Action Plan for the Implementation of UNESCO Council Decisions 2016. This Action Plan was adopted in February 2017 and has foreseen a series of measures. However, these measures were very complex, and each of them had a series of activities. In this regard, the Mission's arrival was crucial to the analysis of the progress made in defining further activities that need to be implemented so that we can respond to all the requirements highlighted in the World Heritage Committee's decisions since the removal of the Area of Kotor from the World Heritage List in jeopardy in 2003 . "
Definitely, significant progress has been made, says Nikolic, adding: "The topics we have started are essential because they have opened up a series of issues that we are trying to solve in the coming period, especially in the context of the Urban Spatial Plan of Kotor and the Revision of Management Plan of the Natural and Cultural-Historical Area of Kotor.”
Asked how much the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism has taken into account the requirements of the World Heritage Committee and the issues we face after the adoption of the Action Plan for meeting the demands of UNESCO, while drafting the Spatial Urban Plan, Nikolic responds:
"I cannot talk about how the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism has gone through the analysis. I know that many consultations with the Department for the Protection of Cultural Property and the Ministry of Culture have been made to bring the draft plan into line with UNESCO standards, to ensure the procedures for the area under UNESCO were different from the usual planning documents. I think the guidelines that the institutions mentioned have given to the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism already embedded in the existing law. What is important to emphasize is that in UNESCO report we find that we have a problem with the administrative label "silence of administration." It is unacceptable to them. The future silence of the administration will not be possible, especially when it comes to the Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Property. It is incredible that we have plans and projects that, without the approval of the Management Board, have been accepted and realized. It will no longer be possible. We'll have to change that. How and in what way, we will try to define in the coming months, in cooperation with the World Heritage Committee. "
The mission suggests that the Law on the Natural and Cultural-Historic Area of Kotor, which is Lex Specialist, has the supremacy over all other laws on the protected area.
"We will make changes to this law; a working group has already been formed. The amendments also include the selection of members of the Kotor Management Council, where it is necessary to ensure more substantial participation of the institutions. The Council currently has representatives of institutions, experts in certain spheres, but have no incentive to make decisions. According to the law, the Council has severe inconsistencies within its competence. But to realize them, it is necessary that in addition to the experts, there are also representatives with mandates to make decisions within sovereign institutions, so that the Council's action is more operational than it is now, "explains Milica Nikolic, who is in constant communication with the World Heritage Organization's experts.
In the Report on the State of Natural and Cultural Heritage of Kotor, UNESCO recommends the establishment of closer cooperation between the municipalities, whose territories represent a buffer zone of the protected area. "Now it is a recommendation, and we expect to be submitted as a request. It is necessary to establish more concrete and dynamic cooperation between the municipalities of Kotor, Herceg Novi, Tivat, and Cetinje. Probably the representatives of these municipalities will find themselves in the Management Council because there is a need for synergy in the work of all local institutions to function and protect the Area fully. "
According to Nikolic, the lack of cooperation between the competent institutions at the national and local levels in the previous period marked the problems that we had in the protected area. "Whether it is lack of cooperation between institutions, within institutions, cooperation between local and national levels has led to major problems. Many institutions have independently designed certain policies, programs, and projects without consulting with others responsible for the Area. What will be the priority of the National Commission for Cooperation with the UNESCO Committee in the forthcoming period is to strengthen this cooperation because it is one of the biggest misconceptions of the Mission and one of the key issues that is being covered throughout the report. "
Nikolic welcomes the Reactive Mission Report is very detailed and accurate. "As time and space in the field show we do not have enough capacity to cover such pressure on the institutions, especially the Department for the Protection of Cultural Property with regard to urbanization control, tourism pressures and everything that has been marked by the previous couple of decades when it comes to the Natural and Cultural-Historical Area of Kotor.” The Secretary of the National Commission welcomes the Committee's recognition of the Montenegrin needs presented and provided the mission of the experts who give its most accurate guidance in its report. The institutions now have clear guidelines on how to handle both projects and locations, as well as laws, urban plans, and everything that has caused problems in the past period.
These problems cannot be solved for a short time. This document represents a medium-term strategy. "At the moment, it is most important to bring a good urban plan for Kotor, which will put all of the lower plan paper out of power and give a chance to reconsider all the plans that do not comply with the Urban Spatial Plan of Kotor when it comes into force and gets UNESCO's approval.”
The National Commission for Co-operation with the UNESCO Committee has already given some guidance by a preliminary insight into the Reactive Mission Report. "In the coming days we will have meetings with the planter so that we can thoroughly go through the Report and make sure its guidelines to be incorporated in the Spatial Urban Plan before we send it to UNESCO to get their opinion and, in perspective, to final approval, " concludes Nikolic.