From 17 to 23 September 2017, UNESCO welcomed representatives from Georgia to discuss protection of World Heritage properties. The tour was part of a Technical Assistance project by UNESCO to Georgia within the framework of the Agreement signed between UNESCO and Georgia in 2015. This Cultural heritage advisory service by UNESCO is implemented with financial support from the World Bank.
The visit began with a discussion at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris and continued with visits to World Heritage sites in France. The study tour was organized in close cooperation with the French Ministry of Culture and the French Association for World Heritage (Association des biens français du patrimoine mondial), to strengthen institutional and technical capacities of the national and local Georgian authorities.
The tour of the Georgian authorities and specialists to France was started with a round table session at UNESCO Headquarters. The Georgian delegation composed of national, municipal and religious authorities discussed with the French representatives, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS the issue of protection of the World Heritage property “Historical Monuments in Mtskheta”, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1994, as well as the establishment of future collaboration regarding World Heritage.
During the round table the participants exchanged experiences in management of historic urban landscapes and World Heritage properties of religious interest. The representative of the Ministry of Culture of France offered future cooperation in these fields. The session was completed with a visit to Notre-Dame Cathedral. During the meeting with Monseigneur Patrick Chauvet, Rector-Archpriest of the Cathedral and the representatives of the Regional Direction for Cultural Affairs (DRAC Île-de-France), the Georgian authorities discussed the participation of the religious community in the management of heritage sites of religious interest.
During the tour, participants shared their experiences to illustrate the main challenges in governance, management and use of World Heritage properties in France and Georgia.
Highlights included visits to French heritage sites such as the old church of Rigny-Ussé, the abbey of Fontevraud, components of the World Heritage property in the Val de Loire as well as the World Heritage property Cathedral of Chartres. The site visits were alternated with presentations and meetings with mayors, architects, and various members of associations concerned with the preservation, use and promotion of French World Heritage sites.The objective of the visit was to explore future avenues of cooperation and share experiences between the French and Georgian experts. The Georgian visitors were able to gain insight into French heritage sites and learn about good practices in conservation and management, protection of historical urban landscapes, urban development, heritage strategies and policies regarding spatial planning.