Maria Suokko, UNDP Kosovo Resident Representative

Thank you for joining this inauguration ceremony! This is yet another important step on our journey to preserve Kosovo’s cultural heritage.

Cemeteries pay tribute to those who have been buried there. Names on tombstones tell us a story of the early residents - and reflect the ethnic diversity and unique population of Pristina. The way tombstones have been designed, the way the cemetery has been decorated and the way it has been landscaped – it all is part of Kosovo’s history.

We cannot talk about where we are going, if we do not know where we came from. That is why preserving history is critically important. Kosovo has a multi-ethnic and diverse cultural heritage. Through our work, we contribute to the preservation and protection of these values.

Restoration and rehabilitation of cultural and religious sites promotes the respect for community’s heritage. By engaging the municipalities and citizens in preserving and protecting cultural heritage, we also enhance the understanding and acceptance of shared cultural heritage.

When the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was adopted in 2015, for the first time, cultural values were brought to the core of international development agenda.

The SDGs recognize the need for an equitable, inclusive, peaceful, and environmentally sustainable future. Culture contributes directly to many of the SDGs — safe and sustainable cities, decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, healthy environment, promoting gender equality and peaceful and inclusive societies.

There are two SDGs that are directly linked to culture more widely:

SDG 11 that aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Specifically, SDG Target 11.4 aims to “strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage”.

SDG 16 calls for peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice for all and for effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.

These SDGs are embedded in the work that we are doing together through this project.

Weather and time have left their marks at this cemetery. As a result - the history, the stories, the memories - and slowly, the identity is disappearing. Cemeteries are among the most valuable of historic resources as they reveal us information about historic events, religions, and genealogy.  By restoration of this historic site, we show respect and preserve this piece of history for generations to come.

I would like to express my gratitude to the EU Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace which aims to build trust between communities through improved respect for the cultural identity and heritage of all Kosovo communities.

I also want to extend my appreciation to our partners, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, Regional Centre for Cultural Heritage, municipality of Prishtina, and the Cultural Heritage without Borders.

Thank you

Short note on the project

Supported by the Instrument for Peace and Stability (IcSP/EU) the Inter-community Dialogue through inclusive Cultural Heritage Preservation project aims to build trust between the communities in Kosovo, through improved inter-community acceptance and respect for the cultural identity and heritage of all Kosovo communities. This objective will be achieved through interventions at community and institutional level that instill a sense of inter-community engagement and ownership of Kosovo’s cultural heritage.

The project is currently restoring  and rehabilitating 18 selected sites of religious and cultural significance contributing to strengthening trust and social cohesion as well as increased respect for shared cultural heritage with active engagement of municipalities and citizens in the process of cultural heritage preservation and protection, aiming to increase the understanding of the importance of cultural heritage preservation in Kosovo.

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