“The European Union shall respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity, and [...] ensure that Europe’s cultural heritage is safeguarded and enhanced” Lisbon Treaty
Generally, Cultural Heritage is described as a rich and diverse mosaic of cultural and creative expressions. It is comprehended as an inheritance from previous generations and cultures and our legacy for those to come. Cultural Heritage enriches our society and we now have the necessity to ensure that our common heritage can be shared unharmed with future generations.
For the European Commission, Cultural Heritage has a key role to enhance and safeguard cultural diversity across Europe with an important influence on economic growth, employment and social cohesion and urban and rural revitalization as well as sustainable tourism. According to the Lisbon Treaty and the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, the Commission tries to bring European Cultural Heritage to the fore by leading several initiatives:
- Capitals of Culture: annual selection of two cities to host cultural activities to highlight the diversity of European cultures and foster a sense of belonging to a common area.
- Heritage Days: a locally-led initiative to protect and promote rarely open sites.
- European Heritage Label: to promote the European Heritage dimension and celebrate its history by awarding with the Label sites of great value.
- European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage: also known as the Europa Nostra Awards, it honors research, conservancy, educational and training projects dedicated to raise awareness and appreciation of Europe’s Cultural Heritage. Through a Heritage in Danger programme, the movement assisted Kosovo’s heritage in danger in 2006 and damaged churches back in 2004. Europa Nostra has also collaborated with entities that support Kosovo’s Cultural Heritage such as the Cultural Heritage without Borders’ delegation in the country.
UNESCO has also taken part in the European Heritage’s care: the organization initiatives to preserve, support and promote European Heritage are countless. UNESCO understands heritage as a form of identity and cohesion for communities and runs many activities in order to accomplish that such as the World Heritage Commission or Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Together with Focal Points of the European region, independent heritage experts, the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies, UNESCO designed an Action Plan for Europe. The plan, besides taking into account region-wide needs, highlights sub-regional heritage related needs and places them as top priorities. As well, the organization created a World Heritage List for cultural properties, most of which European. The Medieval Monuments in Kosovo, four edifices from the Byzantine-Romanesque ecclesiastical culture in the Balkans dated between the 13th and 17th centuries, were incorporated in 2006 into the World Heritage in Danger List.