Even though Andro Vlahušić and the Ministry of Culture used every shady move they could come up with in the last two days in order to cover up the point of the Dubrovnik scandal, that point is crystal clear. To be exact, the Republic of Croatia, national institutions for heritage protection, and local authorities in Dubrovnik received a resonating and devastating slap on the wrist by UNESCO.
UNESCO has, in its official report, threatened to give Dubrovnik’s already protected historic center the status of endangered heritage. Dubrovnik had such a status twice in its history: once after an earthquake, and the second time when it was bombed and surrounded by war. In other words, UNESCO deems the current state of Dubrovnik’s cultural and historic heritage seriously endangered the same as it was when the city below Srđ was shaken by Richter and Merkalli or when it was bombed from surrounding knolls. This only shows how alarming UNESCO finds the state Dubrovnik is in.
UNESCO demands all activities at Bosanci and Srđ to cease.
If one thoroughly reads the document issued by the Parisian office, it is easily discernible that the assessments and demands match those that have been issued for years now by civil organizations, environmental activists, sociologists, a wide array of Dubrovnik’s public figures, as well as all major experts on tourism. UNESCO demands that Dubrovnik assesses the impact of the anticipated construction (which includes 240 villas and 408 suits) at Bosanci and Srđ on the city’s historic center. They also demand an assessment of the influence the large number of cruisers have on Dubrovnik’s center. UNESCO scolds local protection institutions and the Ministry of Culture for not making an explicit statement and determining the “irreversible impact this construction will have on the clear historic difference between the medieval city and its rural surroundings.” This is why UNESCO demands all activities at Bosanci and Srđ to cease and thorough analyses be made on the impact of cruisers and further construction. Dubrovnik is placed under international monitoring – UNESCO announces that if the situation does not change, the historic city center will be given ‘a yellow card’ – i.e. the status of endangered cultural heritage.
Andro Vlahušić and Dubravka Šuica have endangered Dubrovnik worse than the former JNA all with the blessings of the Ministry of Culture.
It is, in short, a document whose issuing should have made Andro Vlahušić, the mayor of Dubrovnik, resign immediately. The United Nations themselves have deemed his development policy as dangerous as an earthquake!
For the last two days, it has been touching to listen and watch Andro Vlahušić and the Ministry of Culture attempting to lessen the damage done and minimize the devastating consequences of their work. The Ministry of Culture cynically stated that writing about the endangerment of Dubrovnik “impinges on the political sphere” while Andro Vlahušić attacked civil organizations, calling them ‘snitches’ for Paris and the cause of all the troubles for the city. His reaction is heartwarmingly similar to that of conservators in Split who, a few years ago, accused civil organizations of being ‘stool pigeons’ who will cost the city its prestigious status.
Andro Vlahušić went further and started complaining about being attacked for construction that will not even be visible form the city and has nothing to do with the center. It is obvious the mayor of Dubrovnik does not understand anything or – what is more plausible – is pretending not to understand a thing. The protection of the city center is not only the protection of stone edifices and vistas. The protection of the historic center is also the protection of life that goes on within it, the continuity of its usage and what is commonly called ‘genius loci’. With their policies, Andro Vlahušić and his predecessor Dubravka Šuica have endangered this cultural heritage more than the former JNA (Jugoslavenska narodna armija) did with its bombings in 1991. The consequence of their policies is an empty ghost town with no public functions, dead in the winter, swarming in the summer where traffic officers need to regulate the traffic. It is a city where the daily number of cruisers is announced in papers as if it were water levels of local rivers; where the vice-mayor demands the diocese charge entrance fees for churches because they are ‘un-loyal competition’ to museums; a city where citizens are asked to stay indoors on busy days.
Mayor Vlahušić sees the development policy of Dubrovnik as more ships, more construction, and more guests.
Development policies from the era of Andro Vlahušić were simple and absolutely ruthless. They came down to Dubrovnik’s center being a source of profit drained out of more ships, more construction, and more guests. With this maximized growth, Vlahušić gathered money into the budget and then bought voters by giving them grants for highways and planes, gifts and benefits. Vlahušić was destroying his city so he could buy his election.
UNESCO simply summarized what prudent people have been saying for decades: this policy for Dubrovnik led by Andro Vlahušić is suicidal and dangerous. The Ministry of Culture, which silently supported this policy in the name of HNS’s (Hrvatska narodna stranka) party loyalty, is an equally guilty accomplice.