The World Heritage Center, the UNESCO coordinator for all issues related to the World Heritage of registered monuments, has launched an initiative and will send a team of experts to take under scrutiny the concrete intervention on the Acropolis. Covering the pathways with concrete in 2020 by order of the Greek Culture Minister triggered a wave of reactions in- and outside the country.
KTG thoroughly covered the issue in 2021- check here.
According to an exclusive report by daily efimerida ton syntakton (efsyn), the WHC responds to a letter signed by prominent university professors, professionals and citizens to its new director, Lazare Eloundou, where they express their concerns about the interventions that the Ministry of Culture implemented and plans to implement on the Acropolis, bypassing the legislation and the international principles of the UNESCO.
The letter draws attention to the interventions in 2020, that is the concrete pavements strengthen with metal mesh from the Propylaea to the Parthenon elevator, but also about the construction projects that are planned: that is the restoration of the main entrance, where, based on the proposal of the president of ESMA, Manolis Korres, a stepped square will be constructed, according to the model of the Roman scale, which corresponds to the 1st AD. century, while the formations inside the Acropolis correspond to the 5th BC century.
and the damages a few months later..(March 2021).
Based on Eloundou’s letter response, it is revealed that the World Heritage Center has not been informed about the intervention projects, although the Minister of Culture, Lina Mendoni, has supported the opposite, notes EFSYN.
For the first time, the assurance is given that there will be “in the coming months a consultative mission of the World Heritage Center / ICOMOS, in order to review all issues related to the World Heritage monument, the Acropolis in Athens.”
At the same time, he clarifies that he has already informed the competent Greek authorities (including the Ministry of Culture), awaiting their own comments, as they must comply with “paragraph 174 of the operational instructions for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention”.
Institutions, international organizations and prominent personalities who have signed the joint protest “Acropolis SOS” and have issued resolutions, have resumed the issue. The first letter was sent in March 2021 to the former director of the WHC, Mr. Roessler. However, no initiative was launched, except for the assurance that the Greek authorities, ie the Culture Ministry, will be informed about the expressed concerns.
Well-informed sources told EFSYN that the new attitude proves that the issue of interventions is taken seriously by UNESCO.
Based on the World Heritage Convention, mechanisms have been established to monitor and control the works on the registered monuments, in order to ensure their reliability, protection measures and their promotion.
Archaeologist Eleni Methodiou, who is in charge as the former vice-president of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, told efsyn that the UNESCO had to mobilize for such a serious issue already last year, when the news spread enormously internationally. She added that the development is for the benefit of the monument.
After inspection on the spot in the coming months, the Commission of the World Heritage Center will create a file with the data collected and this will be examined at the annual Meeting that will be held in summer.
“They will abolish every notion of historical unity and continuity,” said Dr. Tassos Tanoulas, architect, engineer and former head of the technical office for the maintenance of the Propylaea (1984-2010) and supervisor of the restoration in the southern wing of the Propylaea (2013-2016).
Culture Ministry confirms
Following the EFSYN exclusive report on Thursday, the Culture Ministry confirmed the upcoming arrival of the inspection team on Friday morning.
In a letter to efsyn, the ministry’s press office said that “the purpose” of the UNESCO team visit “is the on-site examination and presentation of the project, as well as the future planning of the interventions.”
Furthermore, the ministry claims that the visit follows an invitation by the Ministry of Culture to the World Heritage Center for the sending to Athens of a team of experts. However, the daily notes that neither the ministry announced the invitation, nor Elounoud’re letter on February 15, 2022 mentioned it.
EFSYN recalls that amid the outrage last year, the Culture Ministry had stated that the projects are small-scale and do not need approval by UNESCO.