Regional Co-operation for Cultural Heritage Development
რეგიონალური თანამშრომლობა კულტურული მემკვიდრეობის განვითარებისათვის
Տարածաշրջանային համագործակցություն հանուն մշակութային ժառանգության զարգացման
Національна політика щодо культурної спадщини
Mədəni irsin inkişaf Etdimilməsi üçün regional əməkdaşlıq
Рэгіянальнае супрацоўніцтва ў мэтах развіцця культурнай спадчыны
E- Journal №2
Cultural Heritage Policy
Cultural Heritage Protection Policies in Moldova: between Reality and Necessity

Valeria Suruceanu,
National Art Museum of Moldova,
National Committee ICOM Moldova

Republic of Moldova is a small country in the Eastern Europe. It went through a difficult historical course towards the social, political and spiritual progress that ended with the gaining of the independence in 1991. The immediate task of the government was the positioning of Republic of Moldova in the European context as a subject with equal rights. At present serious attempts are made towards the integration of the country in a unique system of European international relations. Together with the economic and political formation of the country, a special importance is plaid by the interpretation and presentation of the cultural background of our country to the European community. Moldova is a country that tends to enter the common European space and has common borders with the European Union. It also has a rich cultural heritage that we would like to be viewed as an indispensable part of the European heritage. In order to achieve this, the policy of cultural heritage preservation should be formulated on the basis of the European legislation.

At present, Moldova is still in the process of formation of the politics regarding the heritage preservation. After gaining the independence in 1991 first steps towards the conservation of the cultural heritage were made and first of all the legislative basis necessary for the protection of the cultural patrimony of our country was established. In 1993, June 22, Law on Protection of the Monuments was adopted, in 1999, May 27, Law on Culture was adopted. In 2002, the Parliament of Republic of Moldova ratified the Convention on Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage adopted at the 16th Session of UNESCO General Assembly in Paris in 1972, November 16.

Unfortunately, the actions undertaken by the state in the sphere of cultural heritage, as well as the legislation, are not always brought to completion. For example, the State Register of Monuments was officially published only in 2010 after a 17 year gap. No unique national strategy was elaborated in the sphere of preservation of cultural and historical heritage until now. Besides, there are no coordinated actions from the part of state bodies and local government in this field. Until present, Moldova lacks a professional school for training restorers and conservators. All these factors lead to serious losses of the heritage.

In order to improve the situation in the perspective, we highlight three priority directions of cultural heritage protection policy: development of a national strategy, reformation of the regulatory framework and a good management of Monuments.

In order to target the existing imperfections, through a decision of the Government dated with 2006, September 26th, the National Agency on Monuments Inspection and Restoration was created. Only after another political crisis, due to the financial support of Venice Bureau of UNESCO there appeared the possibility to stir up the actions of the Agency.

The creation of the National Agency on Monuments Inspection and Restoration, whose ultimate goal is the elaboration of a national strategy in the field of heritage preservation based on European norms, is of great importance not only for our country but also for the whole European community.

The general scope of the Agency is to promote effective policies to protect cultural heritage. Its objectives are as follows:

  • Establishment of a sustainable partnership with local government in order to develop and implement policies of protecting cultural heritage.
  • Development of a coherent long-term national strategy that would include protection of cultural and historical heritage among national priorities.
  • Raising the issue of cultural heritage protection in media sources and development of publications, posters, etc., in this field.
  • Discussion with policy makers on whether and how to strengthen the institutions specialized in the field of cultural heritage protection in Moldova.

During a rather short period of time the Agency really made a huge work in the field of protection and valorisation of cultural and historical heritage of Republic of Moldova.

Thanks to the efforts made by the Agency for Inspection and Restoration, in February 2010, the Register of Monuments protected by the state was finally published.

The strategic plan of the Agency on Inspection and Restoration of the Monuments for 2010-2012 stipulates a range of particular measures for the protection of the cultural heritage of Moldova. Among them we can mention monitoring of the monuments, scientific conferences, seminars, trainings, exhibitions, press-conferences.

An important part of its activity in 2010 was the monitoring of 977 building of national and local significance of historical zone of Chisinau city that took place in January – March 2010. During this period the Agency also inspected the state of 727 monuments of national and municipal significance in 25 regions and 2 municipalities. Among the documented and photographed monuments there are 299 churches, 49 country estates, 9 houses-museums, 18 monasteries, 9 wind mills, 10 hospitals with adjacent park zones, 5 rail roads.

In collaboration with state bodies an attempt was made to improve the existing situation in the field of administration training. The main goal of the seminar on "Effective Policies for Protection of Cultural Heritage in Europe" (Vadul lui Voda town, 21-25 June 2010) organized by the Agency for Inspection and Restoration of the Monuments with the financial support of UNESCO Office, Venice was to train and inform about the European norms and standards in the field of heritage protection 32 heads of culture departments in 32 districts of the country.

The creation of an effective politics in the field of preservation of historical and cultural heritage is possible only based on a serious scientific research and scientific classification of heritage monuments. In 2005, a group of experts together with scientific and cultural association "Museion" had an attempt to classify monuments by categories. This classification is the basis of the web site "The historical and architectural heritage of Moldova." The website includes 409 most valuable monuments of history and architecture of Moldova. But, unfortunately, the project resources afforded only a small part of what needed to be done in classification of the national heritage.

One of the priority directions of the Agency is the involvement of academic institutions in developing strategies for saving the cultural heritage.

At the seminar organized on 21-25 June, 2010 “The Programme on Preservation of Cultural Heritage in Republic of Moldova” elaborated by The Institute of Cultural Heritage was presented. The programme has the main objectives:

  • Training of the specialists in the field of heritage.
  • Attraction of the financial and human resources.
  • Elaboration by the Institute of Cultural Heritage of a several-year plan for the cultural heritage preservation, thus it would become a priority of the state.

Any architectural monument or any peasant house with heritage value should have a dossier that would contain all the surveys and scientific expertise. All the information will be further included in the official list of the heritage and will be published in the Official Monitor. In these circumstances the heritage acquires not only scientific value but also a legal one. This fact will serve as an additional guarantee that the national heritage is well managed and protected.

For the participation in the seminar invited were foreign specialists, such as Bianchi Alessandro, art historian, Higher Institute for Conservation and Restoration, Rome, Italy, who presented the case study “The crypt in Anagni Cathedral: a long lasting investigation on thermo hygrometric parameters”.

The main aspects of the Agency projects have a great training importance. It is worth mentioning that our country lacks training centres specialized in the heritage conservation that is why seminars, conferences, training courses organized by the Agency were of special importance. More than 40 specialists in the field of culture got one more possibility to strengthen their theoretical knowledge while attending the courses of local and international experts in heritage conservation. They also had the opportunity to personally participate in practical courses organized on the territory of cultural sites of Moldova (Orheiul Vechi, Soroca Fortress and others).

Due to the actions undertaken by Agency in this period not only administrative resources were attracted, but also the civil society. The materials served as a basis for a large public awareness campaign. The activity of the Agency allowed to attract the attention of as many people as possible regarding the problem of heritage conservation. All the years, the Agency activity was highlighted by almost all mass media means. Press conferences, exhibitions, publications have been organized. Numerous (more 100) radio and TV programs, articles in the newspapers and Internet provoked an immense interest among the civil society.

The main task of several International Heritage Photographic Experience exhibitions, organized in 2010-2012, was to attract the young audience to the problem of historical heritage preservation in Moldova.

The publication from the series of "Retro Chisinau" and "Retro Soroka" aroused great interest in history and architectural heritage of the city of our country.

The main goal of the “Black Book of the Cultural Heritage of Chisinau City” edition and its presentation on September 20th, 2009, as well as the press conference from March 25th, 2010 was to inform the mass media and the civil society about the existing degradation of the historical centre of Chisinau city. As a result of the monitoring in the historical zone of Chisinau city the following facts were identified: from the total number of 977 inventoried buildings with historical value, beginning with 1993 77 edifices (44 in 1993-2006 and 33 in 2006-2010) were destroyed. 155 buildings were subjected to reconstructions that negatively influenced their exterior and further lead to the loss of the historical and cultural value of many of them. This information served as a basis for the “Black Book of the Heritage”. But to our great regret the destruction of the historical zone of Chisinau city continues until now, in spite of the fact that the Agency on Inspection and Restoration of the Monuments undertakes all the necessary measures including the mass media campaigns and appeals to local government bodies.

Thus, for example, at present, several dossiers on illegal destruction of the monuments are submitted to the office of the public prosecutor of Republic of Moldova. Unfortunately, the existing legislative norms are not always protecting the cultural heritage.

During a rather short period of time the Agency achieved great results in the field of heritage protection that, we may hope, will serve as a good platform for future promotion of a good management of the national cultural and historical heritage. The initiatives launched by the Agency found a fertile ground: many projects were supported by the representatives of culture departments, representatives of Ministry of Culture of Republic of Moldova, representatives of the local community. All the above enumerated actions are the first steps towards the most important task of the Agency activities that envisages the establishment of a sound partnership between local government and central government regarding the elaboration of a national strategy in the field of preservation of country’s cultural and historical heritage. For the first time in Moldova several projects were implemented, which touched upon many problems linked with national heritage conservation. Among them we could mention the legislative basis, allocation of finances, training, partnership between local and central government, awareness raising in representatives of different social categories of people and their involvement in the conservation of the heritage, the scientific approach to the problem of conservation and restoration of historical and cultural monuments. Thus, for the first time at a seminar organized for the heads of Culture Departments in the local administrations not only the conservation of the monuments has been discussed, but also their restoration based on traditional methods and on a scientific approach.

The Agency activity has a great social importance, because it permitted to draw attention not only of the specialists but also of other social groups including the rural and urban population, youth and retired persons to the heritage conservation issue.

Due to the fact that during a long period of time both the administrative bodies and the civil society had an irresponsible attitude towards the historical and cultural heritage of the country, the preservation of cultural monuments in Moldova becomes a top problem at present. The preservation of the cultural and historical heritage for future generations is one of the main tasks of the cultural policy that is why it really acquires a huge historical and cultural importance.

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