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6 Sep 2016

Minsk Independence Avenue to be nominated for World Heritage Site status

Minsk Independence Avenue to be nominated for World Heritage Site status

MINSK, 6 September (BelTA) – Belarus intends to put Independence Avenue in Minsk up for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of an international serial nomination, Alla Stashkevich, head of the department of methodological assistance in the protection of the historical and cultural heritage at the Institute of Culture of Belarus, told BelTA.

“The main thoroughfare of the Belarusian capital together with the key streets of Moscow, Kiev, Kharkov, Berlin and Warsaw will bid for the UNESCO World Heritage List status in the single nomination entitled Socialist Postwar Architecture in Central and Eastern Europe. It is about the architecture created after the war in the so-called Stalin Empire style,” Alla Stashkevich said.

On 15-18 September Minsk will play host to the first orientation seminar. Partaking in the event will be experts from Russia, Ukraine, Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany. The leading specialists of these countries, and also architects and architecture experts will discuss the concept of the future nomination, decide on the most attractive zones of the main thoroughfares of the cities and architectural ensembles that will be included in the nomination file, and, finally will work out an action plan for cooperation. It has been initially decided that the nomination will include Karl Marx Allee in Berlin as the main socialist street in Eastern Berlin, Independence Avenue in Minsk, Khreshchatyk in Kiev, Moscow Avenue in Kharkov, Marszalkowska Street in Warsaw. A coordinating committee will be set up to prepare the nomination portfolio.

In November the Belarusian capital will host the second meeting of experts. The meeting will discuss the final concept draft and approve the corresponding plan of action. Next year will be devoted to the work on this serial nomination. In late 2017 - early 2018 the nomination documents will be submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Center, said Alla Stashkevich.

Minsk Independence Avenue to be nominated for World Heritage Site statusThe specialist added that the collection and preparation of necessary documents is a difficult and challenging task. The UNESCO World Heritage Center lays down very demanding requirements today. Apart from the presentation of the nomination with all necessary documents, video and map materials, the UNESCO World Heritage Center requests the heritage management plan, Alla Stashkevich noted. “The preparation of the nomination file is a matter of national importance. This will require the involvement of not only the expert community but also the Belarusian Culture Ministry, and maybe the Architecture and Urban Development Department of the Minsk City Hall, the commission on education, culture and science of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly. The first workshop is a meeting of experts. The second seminar will gather a wider circle of stakeholders: representatives of the government bodies, the civil society, mass media and so on,” she said.

“By joining this nomination initiative, we are advancing our culture and will undertake obligations on the conservation of the heritage. A lot of people will be involved in the work on the file and, if the nomination is approved, will have a direct relation to the conservation process. The same will be done in other countries as well,” Alla Stashkevich said.

Minsk Independence Avenue to be nominated for World Heritage Site statusThe nomination file will be prepared in cooperation with the Institute for Heritage Management (Germany) and the financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany. A year ago the German institute conducted an analysis of the preliminary list of nominations Belarus planned to present for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The German experts pointed to the drawbacks of the nominations, outlined the prospects for their development and made proposals to develop new nominations. Recommendations were also made to work out a transnational serial nomination for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List to mark the socialist postwar civil architecture in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

The file has been chosen due to a number of reasons. Today the UNESCO World Heritage List does not expand as quickly as it used to. Its development is mainly aimed at filling the geographical and themed gap. It turned out that the UNESCO World Heritage List lacks architecture of the modern period, in particular, the architecture of the 20th century. At the recent session of the World Heritage Committee in Istanbul it was noted that a big percentage of objects included into the list are architecture of the past century. The expert community believes that it is a very promising nomination. Today the ICOMOS and the World Heritage Committee mainly prioritize serial multinational nominations.

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