The shield of the law against the menace of war
Author: By Maia Edilashvili
They have faced the threat of military conflict in recent years and they know what war means for people, for cultural heritage and for humanity. Two cities, Byblos in Lebanon and Mtskheta in Georgia, which are on the UNESCO World Heritage list, have recently had to cope with military conflict wreaking havoc on their national soil. With the help of the EU financed CIUDAD project, the local civil and military authorities of the two countries are now developing appropriate policies to prepare and implement risk management plans. The ultimate aim is to apply for greater protection from UNESCO to shield against potential threats in the future.
Text by Maia Edilashvili
Photo by EPA © EU / Neighbourhood Info Centre
TBILISI - “The phone lines were down. We panicked,” says Nunu Mgebrishvili, the deputy head to the state representative in Georgia’s Mtskheta-Mtianeti Region, recalling the Russia-Georgia war in August 2008. As the Russian military were bombing the city of Gori, just 55 km away, people in Mtskheta, Georgia’s ancient capital, expected bombs to rain down on them at any moment.
Mtskheta, which has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1994, survived the attack, but the episode raised awareness of the potential danger. “We realised that efforts were essential to ensure that cities like Mtskheta never came under the threat of bombardment, as they are symbolic of the mankind’s best accomplishments,” said Mgebrishvili.
‘War Free World Heritage Listed Cities’, a grant project financed by the European Union under the Cooperation in Urban Development and Dialogue (CIUDAD) programme, is believed to be the right effort. The aim of the three-year project is to develop management models to protect Mtskheta and Byblos from the ravages of war. The project has a budget of EUR 540,740 and will end in April 2013.