We Welcome the Restoration of Zitomislic Monastery

Author: Collective Statement
Uploaded: Monday, 24 March, 2003

A number of prominent public figures from Sarajevo, Mostar, Banja Luka, Tuzla and Belgrade issue a statement welcoming the fact that work has begun on rebuilding the sixteenth-century Orthodox monastery of Zitomislic, destroyed in 1992

Work has begun on the reconstruction of the Žitomislic monastery, which was originally begun in 1566. The monastery complex was added to the register of protected monuments in 1952, and destroyed in 1992. The works now being carried out are the preparation for the re-establishment of this ancient monument. They are wholly founded on the law and on scientific and professional achievements, and are yet another example of the integrated renovation of the architectural heritage as part of the rebuilding of the war-ravaged communities of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Žitomislic monastery is one of the sacral symbols of the pluriformity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and of the distinctive Serbian Orthodox element of the pluriform society and state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The public recognition, renovation and protection of the monument is a prerequisite for the normalization of the society and state of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole. The restoration of the Žitomislic monastery contributes to a clear definition of the standpoint of all those organizations and individuals involved in that process in regard to the establishment of durable peace, law enforcement, the identification of crimes and the punishment of the perpetrators.

In the act of renovating the Žitomislic monastery, which symbolizes the restoration of the shattered identity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the dignity of its citizens, we, members of the International Forum Bosnia, individually and collectively, recognize an explicit civilizational message of the highest moral value. In this act we recognize the clearest form of establishing durable peace, based on law and justice, not on force and the gains of war.

Every form of vacillation, opposition or passivity in the face of so civilized an act as the renovation of the ravaged substance of Bosnia and Herzegovina's culture can be regarded as encouragement for destructive individuals, elites and ideologies, and a deterrent to those who would build peace and restore confidence.

We are in no doubt about the significance of restoring the systematically demolished monuments and complexes of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the integrity of its post-war renovation and as the framework of sustainable development, and welcome the start of the renovation of the Žitomisliæ monastery as presaging the systematic restoration of the destroyed architectural wealth in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole.

Rebuilding the ravaged architectural heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina should be one of the fundamental aims of the post-war reconstruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is an inseparable part of the process of return of refugees and displaced persons to their own homes. Ensuring that conditions exist for the reconstruction of the destroyed architectural heritage is thus an imperative task for all government authorities, all international organizations engaged in establishing and maintaining the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region as a whole.

Although it can be said of every cultural element of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole that it belongs to one of the particular identities of this society and state – the Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox or Muslim, or the Croatian, Serbian and Bosniac – individually and together they are the heritage and wealth of all of us together. We therefore, the undersigned, consider it the right and duty of everyone in Bosnia and Herzegovina, their associations, organizations and every other element of the organization of the state to take part, individually and together, in the restoration and protection of that heritage, and to thwart any attitude towards it that serves to deepen divisions and distrust.

We the undersigned accordingly:
- Urge that all operations aimed at the restoration of the architectural heritage be enhanced,
- Condemn all obstacles put in the way of those carrying out such restoration,
- Extend our heartfelt support to the owners of demolished monuments and complexes in their endeavours to restore what has been destroyed, and
- Call upon government in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in all its forms and at all level,s and upon the Office of the High Representative of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to provide all the legal, administrative, security and financial conditions needed for the reconstruction of the destroyed heritage, consistent with the provisions of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In issuing this statement to the general public in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the world at large, we wish to emphasize that the restoration of all destroyed sacral buildings, as key symbols of the public recognition of the collective identities forming part of the totality of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is an essential prerequisite for the establishment of human rights, the rule of law and democratically legitimized governance. Without the restoration of these symbols and the public acknowledgement of collective identity, neither returns nor the political consolidation of the society and state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, nor indeed economic development, will be possible. Restoration of this kind is at the very heart of confidence as the most significant capital resource of the society and state of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Muhamed Cico (Sarajevo)
Šacir Filandra (Sarajevo)
Amra Hadžimuhamedovic (Sarajevo)
Kadrija Hodžic (Tuzla)
Ivan Lovrenovic(Sarajevo)
Rusmir Mahmutcehajic(Sarajevo)
Krsto Mijanovic(Sarajevo)
Žarko Papic(Sarajevo)
Lazo Roljic (Banja Luka)
Obrad Savic (Beograd)
Ivan Straus (Sarajevo)
Arif Tanovic (Sarajevo)
Ante Toni Pehar (Mostar)
Vojislav Vujanovic (Sarajevo)

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