On 31 January 2012 the State Party submitted a detailed state of conservation report that addresses progress with the implementation of the corrective measures, including conservation work at Jvari Monastery, surveys of Svctitskhoveli Cathedral, clarification of boundaries and progress with the Management Plan. Details are also provided regarding a proposed visitor centre at Jvari Monastery.
A joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission visited the property between 23 and 28 April 2012, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011).
a) Boundaries issues
The State Party has submitted to the World Heritage Centre updated retrospective cartographic documentation clarifying the boundaries of the property. However, the mission reported that there has not yet been any definition of the buffer zone. This work is seen as a pre-condition for the development of the Management Plan and for possible minor boundary modification of the property.
b) Management Plan
The State Party reported that the drafting of the Management Plan will take place during 2012 within the framework of an approved International Assistance Request and with the support of the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation. This project will also consider the management system for the property and the possibility of establishing working groups to allow for the participation of representatives of the church authorities, NGOs and the Mtskheta civil society. The mission stressed the need for the Management Plan to acknowledge that the property is an ensemble of religious monuments within a very sensitive historical environment and thus needs to be managed as a cultural landscape.
c) Long-term consolidation, conservation and monitoring measures
The State Party reported that during 2012, a comprehensive conservation assessment of archaeological components of the property was undertaken and recommendations set out for their management. Conservation work was carried out on the roof, walls and stone plaques of the Jvari monastery, with the participation of an ICCROM expert, and of the wall paintings in the southern part of Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. At the Cathedral, another capacity-training project headed by an international expert addressed the production of up to date measured drawings during 2010-2011. This resulted in a full set of measured drawings for the Cathedral that will form the basis for developping of a comprehensive conservation plan. At Samtavro nunnery, a project is being prepared to strengthen the southern support wall taking into account the 2010 mission recommendations.
The State Party reported that in 2011 the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation had allocated a special budget for monitoring of the property. In addition, a special project was implemented for monitoring the groundwater fluctuations around Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. It is anticipated that by the end of 2012, additional monitoring mechanisms will be proposed for all elements of the property.
d) Proposal for a Visitor Centre at Jvari Monastery
The State Party included in its report revised plans for the visitor centre at Jvari Monastery. These are said to take into account the comments made by ICOMOS on the initial plans in 2011. These plans will now be reviewed by ICOMOS and comments sent to the State Party.
e) Urban Land-Use Master Plan
At the initiative of the local authorities, work has begun on a systematic data collection of the urban topology, related development and other studies. This data will form the basis for an Urban Master Plan of the town which is being prepared and is due to be completed by the end of the year.
f) Urban development pressure
The 2010 mission report highlighted the need for special care to be given to the sensitive area extending along the river Mtkvari bank, between the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Jvari church. It recommended that the area where the rivers converge should not be developed and that the historic landscape be restored. However, the 2012 mission noted that the State departments, in cooperation with the local authorities have proceeded with the construction of new administrative buildings (Police and Courts buildings and Conference Hall) in this area. The 2012 mission was also informed that a new Museum building is to be erected on the same area, the plans of which have already been approved, as well as a hotel complex. The mission also saw a new tourist information building in front of the entrance of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, constructed in inappropriate style without any respect of the property’s value.
The 2012 mission noted that these considerable developments have been undertaken within one of the most sensitive areas of the property, in the visual corridor between the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and the Jvari hill, is currently being assessed independently of the directions that may be developed by the Urban Master Plan and the Management Plan that are both under preparation. The mission further noted that although all these interventions have an immediate impact on the property, they have not been notified to the World Heritage Centre, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.
g) State Programme for Cultural Heritage in Georgia - towards a strategic World Heritage country programming
The World Heritage Centre has been informed by the World Bank that a “Regional Development Program: An Integrated Approach to Urban Regeneration, Cultural and Natural Heritage for Economic Growth and Job Creation” is under implementation in Georgia. On 23 April 2012, the Minister of Finance of Georgia presented an “Innovative Approach to Regional Development” during a meeting organised by the Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Thematic Group, the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) Sustainable Development Department and the South Caucasus Regional Management Unit at the World Bank Headquarters.
The 2012 mission has been informed that the Governor of Mtskheta discussed with the World Bank representative the possibility to extend this project to Mtskheta. The mission recommended to the authorities to establish, in coordination with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, a global approach for all projects and activities which could be developed for the World Heritage properties in Georgia.
During the meeting with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and the National Commission of Georgia for UNESCO, the mission underlined the urgency to develop this global approach towards a strategic World Heritage country programming in coherence and alignment with the State Programme for the protection of Georgian cultural heritage prepared by the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation. It was discussed that this country-based approach could be developed using the 5C Strategic Objectives in order to achieve greater coherence, efficiency and effectiveness at country level of all activities related to the protection, management and use of the World Heritage properties, and to avoid fragmentation and duplication of projects and activities.