Monday, July 11, 2016

Struga, the City of Poetry


Struga is a town in south-western Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It lies on the shores of Lake Ohrid at the source of the River Drini (Drimi in Slavic). Struga is a quiet city. The houses are beautiful and decorated. A well-known saying: "There is no other place like Struga" is still actual. Crn Drim flows gently through the town, as it does not want to disturb the visitors walking along its banks. There are other places that show the beauty and culture, like the old Struga bazaar, the century old churches and mosques.

What to See?

The Struga of today is quite modern. One can enjoy a pleasant walk through the town, along the river and by the lakeshore. One top destination is the Old Bazaar a lively market lined with traditional houses, cafes and shops. Nearby is the crossroads and the Church of St. George, built in 1835 on the foundations of an older sacred object and an excellent example of revival period architecture. The iconostasis is exceptional, the lower part made of stone, the upper part from wood, with a detailed woodcarving.

Halveti Teke is a classic example of Ottoman architecture, protected by the Macedonian Cultural Memorial Institute, while other interesting examples can be seen along the streets of Braka Miladinovci and Niko Nestor near to the Bazaar.

Close to the River Drin stands the Girl Going for Water, a statue that symbolises the tradition of young girls and brides carrying water from the fountain to their home.

Struga Poetry Evenings is the most important event in the town. It has been held by the Bridge of Poets in the second half of August for more than 40 years. The event gathers poets, writers and artists from across the world. Two awards are presented: one for lifetime achievement, and one for young poets.
Struga National History Museum houses more than 10,000 examples of flora and fauna from the Ohrid and Prespa region in the south-west FYR of Macedonia, and Albania.

Meanwhile, The Struga Museum hosts 150 items of folk costumes from throughout the country, including several complete costumes, items of jewellery, and 80 pieces of furniture, tools and other household objects, as well as a large collection of photographs.

The Church of St Dimitrija is a small church dedicated to St Dimitrija (Demetrius) located by one of the main streets slightly to the west of the town centre.

What to do?

You can enjoy a daytrip from Ohrid by boat, combining a visit to the villages along the west coast of Lake Ohrid where a major feature, aside from the lovely quiet beaches, are the cave churches. Struga is a flat town, spread around the Drin River, and is a great place to relax with a cup of coffee. It is small and easy to get around by foot. A 15-minute walk along the lake will take you to Kalishta Village and the cave monastery. For those seeking a little more adventure and outdoor activities, hiking or biking, there are no limits in Vodno Mountain forest. Before sunset you can enjoy three different types of beach, located by the source of the River Black Drin.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Harasani: The project for integrated management of Lake Ohrid has entered its final stage


Interview with Zhuljeta Harasani, Director General, Directorate of Strategic Planning for Cultural Heritage and Diversity

1. How is the project ‘Towards Strengthened Governance of the Shared Transboundary Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Lake Ohrid Region’ going?

The cross-border project for integrated management of Lake Ohrid has now entered its final stage. While the lead ministry is the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Culture, through its General Directorate of Heritage and Culture Diversity, and other institutions under the ministry, such as the Institute of Cultural Monuments and Regional Directorate of Culture in Korca, have been fully committed in preparation of all the recommendations resulting from all the meetings held in the project framework. The aim is to finalise on time a nomination file for inscribing the Albanian part of Lake Ohrid in UNESCO.

2. What are the duties and responsibilities of the Ministry of Culture with regard to cultural heritage in this project?

Following recommendations of ICOMOS, IUCN and ICCROM our experts are working to ensure the protection and integrity of cultural heritage values of the area for it to be included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. By a decision of the Minister of Culture, in March 2016, the Palaeo-Christian basilica and its mosaic in Lin Village have been entered for inscription on the list. Meanwhile, the Law on Cultural Heritage Monuments protects the area by banning any kind of construction work.

In addition, a group of international experts from UNESCO advisory body ICOMOS, IUCN and national experts from the Albanian Institute of Cultural Monuments, the national and regional agencies of Protected Areas, the Albanian Institute of Archaeology and the Municipality of Pogradec held a field mission on 29 and 30 March 2016. Following the mission’s recommendations, the National Council for Restoration defined a buffer zone for protecting the cultural heritage in the area of Lin. The decision was made known to UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the Ministry of Environment.
In cooperation with the lead ministry, the Ministry of Culture has taken the initiative to ratify the European Landscape Convention, which defines clearly the criteria for protection and promotion of landscapes in general and those that are natural and cultural in particular.
We believe that this Convention is another instrument in the hands of the management of Lake Ohrid Heritage.

3. Is Albania ready to manage and protect such heritage in cooperation with its Macedonian counterparts?

Albania has an experience of more than 20 years in managing outstanding universal values of some properties. The Ministry of Culture in the last two years has shown maximum engagement and readiness to fulfil and complete all its responsibilities toward membership of the Convention of World Culture and Nature Heritage and follow ICOMOS recommendations. While there are improvements seen in achieving good results, a lot more remains to be done. This is our next challenge, together with our obligation to coordinate the work between all our Albanian institutions, locally and nationally, as well as our counterparts in FYR of Macedonia. Preserving and protecting cultural heritage values in our time, when the pressure from urban development is high, is a constant challenge for the governments on both sides of the lake, the Albania and Macedonian counterparts. Responsible institutions, not only those for culture heritage, are now treating Lake Ohrid region as a common space that not only has benefits, but also responsibilities and duties for its protection.

Part of the submission file will be the drafting of a Lake Ohrid Integrated Management plan, which will be obligatory for both state parties and all respective institutions. I think that we have a common challenge on both sides of the lake and only by working together will we be able to manage it much better that has been done up to now.

4. When will the nomination file of the Albanian part of Lake Ohrid to UNESCO be ready?

We believe that the nomination file will be finalised by January 2017 and officially handed over to UNESCO in March 2017. Even though we are working very closely with groups of experts from well-known international and national organisations in the field of culture heritage and environment, thanks also to the valuable support of EU and UNESCO, this project is a major initiative and commitment for both state parties to the UNESCO convention, and it does not end with the finalisation of the nomination file.

5. What is next, and what are the benefits for Albania from this process?

With approval of Lake Ohrid as a World Heritage property, the Albanian map of UNESCO sites widens and the inventory increases with a new addition to the properties of Butrint, Berat, Gjirokastra and Iso-poliphony. As a result, Albania is no longer acknowledged for one or two cities, but also for regions that preserve outstanding universal values. This is even more important for our country as it aspires to join the EU.
Meanwhile, Lake Ohrid itself will benefit from a more careful and sustainable management, and the attention of communities and respective local and central governments. This would bring better investments to the region.
And last but not least, Lake Ohrid will be branded as a UNESCO site, significantly increasing the interest of local and international culture and nature visitors to explore and enjoy the extraordinary natural, aesthetic, cultural and spiritual values that Lake Ohrid and the communities living around it have to offer. This will transform the centuries-old property into an engine of development and revenue generation, thus enabling a better life for LOR communities.

**



Intervistë me Zhuljeta Harasanin, drejtore e përgjithshme e planifikimit strategjik të Trashëgimisë kulturore dhe diversitetit, Ministria e Kulturës e Republikës së Shqipërisë

Si po ecën projekti "Drejt një qeverisjeje të përbashkët të trashëgimisë natyrore dhe kulturore ndërkufitare të rajonit të Liqenit të Ohrit".

Projekti ndërkufitar për bashkërendimin e menaxhimit të Liqenit të Ohrit, tashmë ka hyrë në fazën finale të tij. Megjithëse institucioni lider për palën shqiptare në këtë projekt është Ministria e Mjedisit, Ministria e Kulturës përmes Drejtorisë së Përgjithshme të Trashëgimisë dhe Diversitetit Kulturor dhe institucioneve të saj të varësisë si Instituti i Monumenteve të Kulturës dhe Drejtorisë Rajonale të Kulturës Kombëtare Korçë ka qenë dhe mbetet plotësisht e angazhuar dhe e përfshirë në përgatitjen dhe ndjekjen me rigorozitet të rekomandimeve të dala nga takimet e organizuara në këtë kuadër, për të plotësuar në kohë dosjen për zgjerimin e Trashëgimisë botërore të rajonit të Liqenit të Ohrit me pjesën shqiptare të Liqenit të Ohrit.

Cilat janë angazhimet e Ministrisë së Kulturës lidhur me pjesën e trashëgimisë kulturore

Në zbatim të rekomandimeve të ekspertëve të ICOMOS, IUCN dhe ICCROM, ekspertët tanë po punojnë për të siguruar mbrojtjen dhe integritetin e Vlerave të trashëgimsisë kulturore të zonës së mundshme të rajonit të Liqenit të Ohrit që do të përfshjihet në Listën e trashëgimisë botërore të UNESKO-s. Me një vendim të Ministres së Kulturës në Mars 2016 është shpallur zona e mbrojtur e monumentit të kulturës kategoria I-rë "Rrënojat kishës paleokristiane dhe mozaikët" në fshatin Lin, Pogradec. Në zbatim të Ligjit për trashëgiminë kulturore, në zonën e mbrojtur ndalohet çdo ndërhyrje me karakter ndërtimor.
Po kështu, në vijim të misionit në terren (field mission) të datave 29 - 30 mars 2016 nga grupi ndërinstitucional me përfaqësues të ICOMOS, IUCN, IMK, AKZM, ARZM, Instituti Arkeologjik dhe Bashkia Pogradec, Këshilli Kombëtar i Restaurimeve ka miratuar me 25.05.2016: Propozimin e kufirit të zonës së mundshme për shpallje pasuri botërore e UNESCO-s, vendim i cili i është përcjellë Qendrës së Trashëgimisë të Botërore të UNESCO-s dhe Ministrisë së Mjedisit, institucioni shqiptar "leader" në projekt.
Gjithashtu, në bashkëpunim me Ministrinë e Mjedisit, Ministria e Kulturës ka ndërmarrë nismën për ratifikimin e Konventës Europiane të Peisazhit e cila përcakton qartë kërkesat dhe kriteret për ruajtjen dhe promovimin e peisazheve në përgjithësi dhe atyre kulturore dhe natyrore në veçanti. Besoj se kjo Konventë do të jetë një tjetër "instrument" në duart e menaxherëve të kësaj pasurie botërore.

A është gati Shqipëria për të menaxhuar dhe ruajtur një trashëgimi të tillë në bashkëpunim me palën maqedonase?
Shqipëria ka një eksperiencë më tepër se 20 vjeçare në menaxhimin e vlerave të jashtëzakonshme universale (outstanding universal value - OUV). Ministria e Kulturës në këto dy vite ka dëshmuar angazhimin maksimal të saj për përmbushjen dhe ndjekjen me rigorozitet të detyrimeve të anëtarësimit në Konventën e Trashëgiminë Botërore Natyrore dhe Kulturore dhe rekomandimeve të ICOMOS. Ndërsa ka përmirësime të punës dhe rezultateve, ka ende shumë për të bërë. Kjo mbetet sfida jonë ndërkohë që kësaj sfide i shtohet edhe detyrimi për t'u bashkërenduar institucionalisht jo vetëm së brendshmi, me institucionet e speializuara përgjegjëse qendrore dhe vendore, por edhe me simotrat në vendin fqinj Maqedoni. Ashtu si dhe për parnerët tanë maqedonas, sfida e ruajtjes dhe mbrojtjes së vlerave të trashëgimisë kulturore në një kontekst bashkëkohor vazhdimisht në presionin e zhvillimeve urbane, ka qenë dhe mbetet një angazhim konstant.  Institucionet përgjegjëse (jo vetëm ata të trashëgimisë kulturore) të të dy vendeve kanë filluar tashmë ta trajtojnë rajonin e liqenit të Ohrit si një hapësirë të përbashkët që nuk ka vetëm vlera e përfitime, por dhe përgjegjësi e detyrime. 

Kur do të jetë gati dosja për futjen në UNESCO të pjesës shqiptare të Liqenit të Ohrit
Mendojmë dhe besojmë se dosja ndërkufitare e kandidimit do të finalizohet brenda muajit janar 2017 për t'u dorëzuar zyrtarisht në UNESCO brenda muajit mars 2017. Ndonëse po punohet me grupe ekspertësh të institucioneve më në zë kombëtare dhe ndërkombëtare në fushën e mjedisit dhe të trashëgimisë kulturore falë mbështetjes së pakursyer të EU dhe UNESCO, kjo është një sipërmarrje dhe angazhim madhor për të dy shtetet palë në këtë Konventë të Trashëgimisë Botërore të UNESCO-s, që nuk përfundon me finalizimin e dosjes së kandidimit.
 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Questionnaire on Lake Ohrid

What comes to one’s mind when Lake Ohrid is mention? Koran fish, lakeside, boats, swimming, nature? Maybe all of that!

A trial questionnaire was implemented in the Albanian part of Lake Ohrid Region (LOR) in the framework of the project, in order  to gain an understanding of people’s views on the region. The questionnaire, designed by ICCROM, an advisory body to UNESCO, gathered a preliminary set of data through interviewing people living and working in, or visiting, the area. 

The journalist talking to a local in Hudenisht
It was implemented by an Albanian journalist, Mr Genci Angjellari, contracted by IUCN, for an intense five-day campaign. Some 116 people—78 locals and 38 visitors—were interviewed in various locations along the Albanian side of Lake Ohrid including the city of Pogradec and the villages of Lin, Tushemisht, Hudenisht, Verdove, Starove and Drilon.

The questionnaire began by asking questions on the values and attributes of LOR today, gaining an understanding of the public’s current relationship and connections with their heritage, and, indirectly, the level of satisfaction with the current situation. Later sections, on tourism and visitor experience, aimed to gain insight into the impact of tourism on the intangible values and traditional lifestyles in LOR.

Activities associated with LOR
Initial results revealed a local population that has travelled extensively in the lake area and enjoyed many of its heritage places and experiences. Some ten percent of local residents benefit in one way or another from business and employment opportunities connected with tourism. Visitors to LOR seem to be largely domestic and, together with local residents, they identified a range of positive experiences related to the cultural and natural landscape. Future services for visitors would need to be developed in a way that provides both traditional hospitality, both in hotels and through the promotion of more locally based initiatives, such as home stays.
Culinary and agriculture in LOR 

The data gathered were processed by the ICCROM team and preliminary findings were shared at the May Promoting Heritage workshop, which equipped participants with genuine knowledge of the communities living in or visiting the area and their views about LOR. The results of this modest campaign demonstrate the importance of more substantial public consultation in the future and for extension to the Macedonian side of the lake, to inform decision making for managing LOR’s heritage and promoting it as a tourism destination.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Activities on Lake Ohrid Day (21 June)

21st June is Lake Ohrid Day. This decision was taken 16 years ago on February 2000 by the Joint Lake Ohrid Management Board.

This is a day when all the communities living on the shores of Lake Ohrid Region should just remind the outstanding values of Lake Ohrid. They should teach to their children to love and protect this natural treasure. On this occasion, every year three municipalities around Lake Ohrid, (Ohrid, Pogradec and Struga) organize many festive activities. 
This year the day was celebrated in Ohrid City, where a number of cultural and sportive activities  were organized by the Ohrid Municipality. Part of these activities, was the  opening of an exhibition with children's paintings inspired by Lake Ohrid. At the end of this activity, in symbolic way, the Mayor of Ohrid Mr Nikola Bakracheski and the Mayor of Pogradec Mr Eduart Kapri signed a document expressing the commitment of their municipalities to save and protect the world's unique ecosystem of Lake Ohrid. They put the document in a bottle which was taken to the Lake by a canoe boat. This symbolic day engage not only local government but also the community and helps at raising awareness about protecting Lake Ohrid.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Final Management Planning Workshop for the Lake Ohrid region

View from Lin peninsula, Albania (UNESCO)
The Fifth Management Planning Workshop, in the framework of the project “Towards strengthened governance of the shared transboundary natural and cultural heritage of the Lake Ohrid region” will take place in Udënisht, Pogradec area, Albania, on 22 and 23 June 2016.
The workshop will focus on governance systems and more specifically on the identification of mechanisms for the involvement and the coordination of various activities between different partners and stakeholders. Additionally the workshop aims to identify priority themes, targets and actions concerning sustainable development options in the Lake Ohrid region in Albania.
Last of a series of five, this Fifth Management Planning Workshop will be the opportunity to review the outcomes of the Fourth Management Planning Workshop (12-13 May 2016, Tushemisht) along with the conclusions of the Third meeting of the Technical Working Group (19 May 2016, Tirana). These Management Planning Workshops have greatly contributed to the capacity building of the project “Towards strengthened governance of the shared transboundary natural and cultural heritage of the Lake Ohrid region”.Funded by the European Union and the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Albania, the project is going towards its final year of implementation.

More information about the Lake Ohrid region project can be found at: whc.unesco.org/en/lake-ohrid-region/

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The 56th Ohrid Summer Festival (12 July -20 August)


The Ohrid Summer Festival is the biggest cultural event in FYR of Macedonia. The 56th Ohrid Summer Festival this year opens in July 12 with a Gala Concert and it will last until 20 August 2016. The festival will offer classical and opera concerts, theatre and dance staged at venues all over the city.

The new Director of this Festival, Oliver Arsovski, once a musician himself who performed in this festival before, considered the Ohrid Summer Festival as one of the most prestigious cultural events not only in Ohrid and Macedonia, but also elsewhere in the region and beyond.
  
"For years the Ohrid Summer Festival, has established top artistic standards. In addition to the traditional festival program, more attention will be paid this year to its off­-program, including jazz weekends, ballet performances, concerts by famous musicians, etc." said Oliver Arsovski, the Director of Festival. 

These events would be organized when Ohrid is going to be packed with tourists.
This tradition originates from the city of Ohrid – the spiritual capital of Macedonia, the antique city with its magically blue lake, a city with a cultural history marked with values of the ancient civilization, –the city that represents the whole Macedonian cultural and spiritual history.

The first time Ohrid Summer festival was held on 1961 on August 4th in the beautiful cathedral church St. Sophia where the opera singer Ana Lipsha Tofovic marked the beginning of a festival, which later obtained the name Ohrid Summer Festival.
In the first years of the festival, the direct connection of St. Sophia with the vocal music prevailed. In couple of years of self-discovery and outlining its own physiognomy, Ohrid Summer firmly established itself as one of the pivots of the Macedonian cultural tradition.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Ohrid Lake featured in well-known Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera

Ohrid Lake divides Albania from Macedonia; it's just smaller than Garda lake, Italy...

It is a lake of 4 million years age, an area slightly smaller than Garda Lake (Italy) with a unique ecosystem in Europe, which has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also a pond where you overlook the historical and political rivals of the past - Albania and Macedonia - as it is now considered by both a treasure to be preserved. This is the Lake Ohrid, located on the border between the two Balkan states. The Lake Ohrid is about four hours drive from Tirana, a great refuge from the hot summer since the average temperature here does not exceed 27 degrees.

Since ancient times, the region is known to be a place for holidays and relaxation rather than a strategic position to advance in the wars or dominate others.