Europa Nostra discusses endangered heritage at meetings in Athens

For their spring meeting, Board and Council members of Europa Nostra came together in Athens for a rich programme of meetings and cultural excursions set in and around the Greek capital on 18-20 June. Several of the meetings were held jointly with the Capacity Building Days and allowing for ample exchanges with the 60 participating Young Heritage Professionals from all over Europe. The entire programme of events was organised in cooperation with Europa Nostra’s Country Representation in Greece, Elliniki Etairia (Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage), which also hosted the Board and Council at their premises in the historic Plaka neighbourhood. A highlight was the uniquely inspiring cultural programme in Marathon including a “European Heritage Walk” and Local Awards Ceremony for the “Greek Paths of Culture” (see news item), which is a project of Elliniki Etairia supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the A.G. Leventis Foundation that had just received a European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra Award 2019.

Under the chairmanship of Europa Nostra’s Executive President Hermann Parzinger, the Board and Council – among other items – discussed endangered heritage sites in Europe and Europa Nostra’s ongoing efforts to save them. In the recent campaign against the cable car plans at the Belgrade Fortress, Europa Nostra was the only international organisation that has decided to add its voice and this support was greatly appreciated by the local population (read report from the recent expert mission). Of continued great concern are Venice and its Lagoon put at risk by large cruise ships – and selected as THE most endangered heritage site of Europe in 2016 – and Europa Nostra’s Board agreed to reiterate its call to UNESCO to place Venice and its lagoon on the list of World Heritage in Danger ahead of the 43th meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Baku, Azerbaijan, where Europa Nostra had been represented by Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović and Board member Laurent Levi-Strauss. Likewise, Europa Nostra decided to continue to speak out to save the ancient city of Hasankeyf and its surroundings which was selected as one of the 7 Most Endangered heritage sites 2016.

Further to the devastating fire at Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral in April, Europa Nostra’s Council member and newly elected Vice-President Bertrand de Feydeau, who is also Vice-President of the Fondation du Patrimoine, gave a comprehensive report about the scale of the destruction and planned reconstruction works as well as the challenges faced with. The Paris Fire Brigade will be celebrated for their courageous fight against the flames at the European Heritage Awards Ceremony on 29 October in Paris together with all other laureates of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2019.

The Ceremony will be one of the highlights of the European Cultural Heritage Summit on 27-30 October in Paris. Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović and Vice-President Bertrand de Feydeau presented the ambitious programme of the Paris Summit (Assises européennes du patrimoine culturel) which will take shape over the coming weeks. It will be the second of its kind after the Berlin Summit held exactly one year ago which was co-hosted by Europa Nostra, the German Cultural Committee (DNK) and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK). DNK’s Head of Office Uwe Koch had the pleasure to attend the Council meeting as an observer and present to Europa Nostra their recently published Magazine with the results of the European Year of Cultural Heritage in Germany featuring a special coverage of the Berlin Summit.

Council member Etienne Poncelet also presented a first assessment of the European Quality Principles for EU-funded Interventions with Potential Impact upon Cultural Heritage, which was recently published by ICOMOS as one of the outcomes of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 and further to a conference held in Venice in November 2018 to which Europa Nostra had contributed.

In the light of the recently held European elections (23-26 May), Europa Nostra’s representatives also agreed on the importance of reaching out to the newly elected or re-elected Members of the European Parliament so as to build strong partnerships with Europe’s elected decision-makers. This important task will be the responsibility of the Europa Nostra’s Brussels office which will be reinforced as of September 2019 by Council member Jimmy Jamar, acting on a voluntary basis in support of the Board and the Secretary General.

What better way to close the meeting than joining the young generation of heritage professionals for the concluding session of the Capacity Building Days?

After such intense meetings and intergenerational exchanges, all participants young and old had the unique opportunity to visit the Acropolis under the expert guidance of Fani Mallouchou-Tufano, Europa Nostra Council member and leader of the Committee overseeing the conservation of the Acropolis monuments.

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