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Press releases

PRESS RELEASE “Byzantine Monuments and World Heritage IV: Charter for the Protection of Byzantine Heritage Monuments”

Thessaloniki, 30/11 – 2/12

Twenty-three countries of Europe and the Mediterranean, three days of consultation in Thessaloniki, a Charter for the Protection of Byzantine Heritage Monuments.

The European Centre for Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Monuments (EKBMM) organizes an International Conference from Friday 30 November to Sunday 2 December, in which participate the delegates of ministries and institutions responsible for the protection and management of cultural heritage in 23 countries whose territories have Byzantine monuments. The Conference aims in the consensus of the countries' representatives on a text of joint consent, on the ways in which the Byzantine heritage monuments should be protected, restored and tell their story of many centuries to the citizens of the countries where they belong and their visitors.

Starting point for this common "Charter", which will take its final form under the auspices of the Hellenic Committee for UNESCO and with the presence of the Chief of the Europe and North America Unit of UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Isabelle Anatole-Gabriel, is a 16-page text written by a Scientific Committee of prominent experts with academic knowledge and practical experience in the restoration of Byzantine monuments, and  reviewed by an International Committee of Experts.

From 2001 already, EKBMM, at the 1st International Conference, held in Thessaloniki where it is based, as well as at those that followed in 2003 and 2006, had "given the floor" to experts - architects, restorers and archaeologists from 19 countries - to discuss the common objectives for the preservation and management of Byzantine heritage monuments, but also the differences that they identified in the legal framework of each country, as well as the practices that each state followed. Subsequently, these countries decided to entrust EKBMM with the drafting of a "Charter" that would constitute a framework of commonly accepted principles for the protection of the Byzantine heritage monuments for all states which own and manage Byzantine monuments.

Today, seventeen years after the beginning of this joint initiative, Thessaloniki, whose Byzantine monuments constitute a unique ensemble registered in the World Heritage list, becomes once again the place of meeting, discussion and fermentation of views, this time for the common consent on, and implementation of the "Charter for the Protection of Byzantine heritage Monuments".

During the discussion, the delegates of 23 different countries will refer to the Byzantine monuments that have been worn by time, that were violently hurt by warfares of the remote or more recent past, that were used in the passage of centuries in various ways and by many peoples, on some that have been restored in the past in ways that may not facilitate them to "speak" today, and on the way we would wish for them to be received by the next generations from our own.

The "Charter" which will result as the fruit of this discussion will be submitted after its endorsement to UNESCO while remaining open for accession of more countries in whose territories exist Byzantine monuments.

The 4th International Conference is among the flagship and prominent activities of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, while its festive completion at Rotonda on Sunday 2 December will mark the official end of the Year for Greece.

The Conference's start of works will salute, among others, the Chief of the Europe and North America Unit of UNESCO World Heritage Centre Isabelle Anatole-Gabriel, the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs for Greece Markos Bolaris, the  Secretary-General of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports Maria Andreadaki-Vlazaki, the Vice-Rector of Academic and Student Affairs Ariadni Stogiannidou, the Professor of the Democritian University of Thrace, 1rst Vice-Chairman of the Board of Hellenic ICOMOS Nicolaos Lianos, and the Professor of Roma Tre University, Member of the Europa Nostra Board Paolo Vitti, while the Deputy Director of Archaeological Excavations of the Ministry of Culture of Syria Hammam Saad will present the present state of Byzantine monuments in Syria. The Minister of Culture and Sports for Greece Myrsini Zorba, the Mayor of Thessaloniki Yannis Boutaris and the President of the Hellenic National Committee for UNESCO Aikaterini Tzitzikosta will salute the Charter's endorsement and the closure of the Conference's works.

The public wishing to attend the consultation procedures for reasons of scientific or general interest is welcome. It should be noted that the possibility to take part in the discussion is only granted to the countries' official delegations.

The Conference will take place at the "Stefanos Dragoumis" auditorium of the Museum of Byzantine Culture (2, Stratou Avenue, Administration Building). It is implemented with the support and funding of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports. The Museum of Byzantine Culture and the Ephorate of Antiquities of the City of Thessaloniki join as associates. Aegean Airlines is the Conference's air carrier sponsor.

INFO: EKBMM +30 2310 889 830 (9:00 – 17:00),