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Szunyog: To build our common future we need to protect our common past

Apr 19, 2022

Marking the International Day for Monuments and Sites, also known as the World Heritage Day, on 19 April 2022, the Head of the EU Office and EU Special Representative in Kosovo, Ambassador Tomas Szunyog, visited the Ulpiana Archaeological Park, which is now benefiting from an EU-funded project worth EUR 1 million.

The Upliana Archaeological Park, managed by the Kosovo Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS), and its Archaeological Institute, has thus far enjoyed the support of numerous international organisations and diplomatic offices and embassies in Kosovo, whose representatives joined the visit.

“Marking the World Heritage Day is important because it reminds us of the diversity of our common cultural heritage, its vulnerability, and the efforts required for its protection and preservation,” said Ambassador Szunyog.

“I want to point out that in order to build our common future, we need to protect our common past and focus on things that we have in common and that unite us, rather than on issues that divide us. Ulpiana, and many other immensely valuable cultural heritage sites in Kosovo, are one of those things, and I am proud that today we are witnessing the EU’s concrete support for its preservation.”

EUR 1 million project called European Archaeological Mission in Kosovo: from Ulpiana to Iustiniana Secunda was launched on 14 December 2021. It is using the results of previous EU-funded geophysical surveys of a greater Ulpiana area. Over the next three years, it will contribute to further archaeological research and excavations, preservation of findings, and capacity building of the Archaeological Institute of Kosovo (AIK) staff. 

The project is implemented by the Institute of Archaeology of the French Ecole Normale Supérieure – one of the most experienced institutes in archaeology in the Mediterranean and Central Asia – in close partnership with the MCYS and AIK.

“The ancient Municipium of Ulpiana included a fortified settlement covering an area of 35.5 hectares. Nonetheless, its territory covered an area of approximately 100 to 120 hectares, and we now aim to unearth numerous sacral, profane and utilitarian buildings and structures of Ulpiana-Justiniana-Secunda identified through geophysical prospections. In this sense, the EU-funded project will greatly contribute to our archaeological efforts,” said AIK’s Lead Archaeologist for Ulpiana, Milot Berisha.

The EU has been supporting the protection and preservation of cultural heritage sites in Kosovo since 2000. Amongst others, these include towers (Kulla/Kula) and religious sites and monuments. It has thus far invested more than EUR 14.7 million in this field.

The EU remains the largest provider of financial assistance to Kosovo.