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Les fortifications de Vauban à Briançon sélectionnées Programme Europa Nostra / Banque européenne d’investissement « Les 7 les plus menacés »

Athens, 12 June 2013 - The Roman amphitheatre in Durrës in Albania, the buffer zone in the historic centre of Nicosia in Cyprus, the 17th century Vauban’s fortifications in Briançon in France, the Renaissance monastery of San Benedetto Po in Italy, the 15th century monastery in Setúbal in Portugal, the historic mining landscape of Rosia Montana in Romania and the Armenian church of St. George in Mardin in Turkey have been selected as the 7 most threatened landmarks in Europe. The announcement was made today by the leading European heritage organisation Europa Nostra, together with the European Investment Bank Institute, at a press conference in Athens, on the eve of its 50th Anniversary Congress. These gems of Europe’s cultural and natural heritage are in danger, some due to lack of funds or expertise, others due to inadequate planning, neglect, natural disaster or even political conflict. An urgent action is therefore required.

“These monuments and sites were selected not only because they tell a fascinating story about our shared past, anchoring a sense of belonging to a European family, but also because they are highly valuable to the local communities who are strongly engaged in saving them. Rescuing these sites would also act as a catalyst for the social and economic revitalisation of entire cities or areas. This is why Europa Nostra calls upon many public and private partners, at local, regional, national and European levels, to join their forces and ensure a promising future the selected sites,” stated Plácido Domingo, President of Europa Nostra.

“Investment in heritage conservation contributes to sustainable development and ultimately to growth and employment through its positive impacts on the local and regional economy. Support to heritage conservation therefore falls well within the remit of the European Investment Bank (EIB). The EIB Institute, together with Europa Nostra and associated partners, will undertake the necessary efforts to assess the selected sites and to contribute to the development of realistic action plans, in close cooperation with the national and local public and private entities,” added Rémy Jacob, Director General of the EIB and Dean of the EIB Institute.

Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute, founding partner of ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ programme, will undertake rescue missions to these heritage sites after the summer. More specifically, experts appointed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), an associate partner, will provide analysis and advice on how funding could be obtained, for example, through European Union funds or, in appropriate cases, loans. The initial rescue action plans will be presented at the European Heritage Policy Conference, organised by Europa Nostra, in Brussels on 5 December 2013.

“For 50 years, Europa Nostra has been active in saving endangered heritage all over Europe, from the ancient site of Delphi in Greece in the early 1980s to the historic city of L’Aquila in Italy in the 2010s. We are proud that this year, for the first time, we have launched an advocacy and operational scheme in partnership with such a prestigious financial institution as the European Investment Bank. Our alliance demonstrates the recognition by the EU Institutions of its responsibility towards safeguarding Europe’s cultural heritage, as stated in the Treaty of Lisbon (article 3.3). We expect that ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ programme will encourage others to support our efforts to rescue and promote the unique heritage of Europe,” concluded Denis de Kergorlay, Executive President of Europa Nostra.

‘The 7 Most Endangered’ programme was launched last January, having been inspired by a successful project run by the US National Trust for Historic Preservation. In this initial year, civil society organisations and public bodies from 21 European countries submitted 40 nominations. The 7 Most Endangered for 2013 were selected by Europa Nostra’s Board among the 14 sites shortlisted by an advisory panel composed of international experts.

Europa Nostra and its partner the European Investment Bank have consistently stated they will give ongoing advice and support also to the seven shortlisted sites that are not in the final list of 7 Most Endangered. Tatoi is a very special case because it is of immense importance to the 4 million citizens of Athens and because the Greek state has acknowledged its importance and listed it as a conservation area, on the nomination of Elliniki Etairia, in 2003. Its problems derive, as stated by our Greek representation, from financial stringency and administrative confusion.

Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank are therefore drawing special public attention and will continue offering special support in response to the challenges which Tatoi is today facing, as is indicated by the visit to Tatoi already arranged for 12th June by a high delegation from Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute. On the occasion of its 50th Anniversary Congress in Athens, Europa Nostra is sending a strong signal to all stakeholders involved on the need to take immediate and effective administrative and other measures to preserve Tatoi for present and future generations of Athenians.
Europa Nostra believes particular attention needs to be urgently given to ensuring a financially viable future for this “lieu de memoire”, also a site of great natural beauty. Inspiring examples can be found elsewhere in Europe, such as the British experience with the “Historic Royal Palaces” organization, responsible for managing estates no longer used by their Royal Family.

Tatoi was financially viable in the past and can become viable again, with proper development of agricultural activities that once flourished there (e.g. wine, oil and dairy products) but also of tourism, as with the boutique hotel, respectful of the history and natural environment of the estate. It is however essential that state ownership and conservation listings are preserved and that an imaginative structure is put in place to promote the future sustainable development of the estate as a whole. Europa Nosta together with Elliniki Etairia, its country representation in Greece, stands ready to assist the Greek authorities in achieving this goal”, declared Denis de Kergorlay, Executive President of Europa Nostra.
Nominations for 2014 can be submitted until 1 November 2013 by Europa Nostra’s country representations, member and associate organisations.