One year after the inauguration of the Old Bridge of Mostar, ten Culture Ministers from South East Europe will meet on the Venetian island of San Servolo on November 25 to 26 to discuss the issue of cultural heritage as an instrument for reconciliation and for economic and social development. Branko Crvenkovski, the President of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will also attend the conference, which is organized by the Italian government and UNESCO.
Participants will take stock of the impact of the inauguration of the Old Bridge of Mostar and announce measures to protect, restore and promote cultural heritage, which they intend to place at the service of economic and social development.
The Old Bridge of Mostar, which was destroyed during the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, has become a symbol of reconciliation since it was restored and inaugurated in July 2004. Inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List last July, the bridge drew over 250,000 tourists in 2004 and 500,000 in 2005.
Croatia is attracting a large number of visitors again, particularly to world heritage sites such as Dubrovnik and Split. But visitors are shying away from the other countries of the region, despite the return of stability and the fact that they are home to 30 World Heritage Sites.
After addresses by the culture ministers of South-East Europe and two culture ministers from the Baltic States, the Macedonian President, Branko Crvenkovski, will invite the participants to meet in 2006 on the shores of Lake Ohrid, a World Heritage Site.