Cultural heritage again without guards, the state has no long-term solution

Descriptive Text

Archaeological sites such as Ulpiana and Dresnik, institutions, including the National Museum of Kosovo, where the treasure of artifacts is stored, have no guards since Thursday. There are over 40 employees whose contracts have expired and this is not a recurring problem. The state has not yet succeeded in making them a permanent solution. Not even longer term than a year. There are cases when they worked for up to three months without compensation. Or from those who have not gone to the workplace at all, causing the millions of investments from the state and international partners to remain without care

As of today (Thursday), over 40 employees of the most important cultural heritage institutions and localities in Kosovo will have their employment contracts expire. Among others, it is about the guards of the National Museum of Kosovo - the institution where the movable treasure of the cultural heritage is kept - those of the only archaeological park in the country, "Ulpiana" and the Castle of Prizren. The state has not yet succeeded in making them a permanent solution. Not even longer term than a year. There are cases when they worked for up to three months without compensation. Or from those who have not gone to the workplace at all, causing the millions of investments from the state and international partners to remain without care.

For the institutions where these employees are engaged, this whole situation is worrying. While the Ministry of Culture is trying to make a slightly more long-term choice.

In October last year, the Ulpiana Management Plan was approved. It took seven years since a part was declared an archaeological park for the locality to become the basic document. In the first part of this month, 21 hectares of Ulpiana became the property of the state. But the issue of 7 guards and maintainers remains unresolved and the Management Plan is still only a document in the drawer.

Milot Berisha, leader of the Ulpiana project, at the same time deputy director of the Archaeological Institute of Kosovo, said that they have notified the Ministry of Culture about the expiration of the contracts.

"We are waiting for the solution. It is not easy to make a solution to this issue, but the contracts should be made as soon as possible", he said.

The same story is also for the Castle of Prizren, where over one million euros from the Kosovo budget and from international donations, including 700 thousand dollars of the Ambassador's Fund, shared by the Embassy of the United States of America, have been invested. The castle and the museum inside it are officially without employees from today (Thursday).

In December 2020, the Prizren Castle Management Plan was approved. According to the plan, this cultural heritage asset should have 16 employees. Ironically, since July 2022, the Ministry of Culture has also appointed the management unit for the Castle.

In the mess of non-continuation of temporary contracts are also many other institutions, such as the Kosovo Institute for the Protection of Monuments, the Albanian League of Prizren and some employees of the regional centers of cultural heritage, of the locality of Dresnik and Novobërda and those of the President's Residence dr. Ibrahim Rugova. Altogether at the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023 there were 3 months without employees.

In the National Museum of Kosovo, an institution that also manages the Ethnological Museum and the House of Independence of Kosovo "Dr. Ibrahim Rugova" are 10 guards whose contracts expire.

The deputy director of the National Museum of Kosovo, Vjollca Aliu, has said that a month ago, the deputy general secretary of the MKRS, Xheladin Krasniqi, asked to address the requests regarding the guards.

"We have been asked to address the requests. I am very glad that besides the salaries, there is also care for safety. We have shown how many there are. The proposed solution was to fix this issue for a longer period", she said.

Through a written communication, the deputy secretary, Xheladin Krasniqi, told KOHA that since they are in the process of drafting regulations for the internal organization and systematization of workplaces for all subordinate institutions of MKRRS, they are obliged to in this case to act according to other times, through procurement procedures.

"We intend for them to have a three-year commitment", said Krasniqi. Until now, the contracts have been annual.

Guards are basic problems that the state is unable to permanently select for localities and institutions. As for other aspects, the lameness is capital.

Even before the inauguration, the Archaeological Institute of Kosovo was provided with a permit to bring electricity to the archeological site of Ulpiana, but practically the work for it has not started yet. In addition, after the announcement of the Archaeological Park locality, there is no leader or leader. It was left to the will of those involved to give any explanation to the visitors. The leader of the works, archaeologist Milot Berisha, takes care of the delegations.

The management plan, a document of 47 pages, is a kind of manual for the management of the Archaeological Park until 2027. It includes the declaration of importance, vision, branding, history, action areas and the action plan. In the scheme of organization and operation of the Park, there will be a management board with five members: the manager or person in charge of the Park and the professional and administrative staff. The professional staff will include an archaeologist, a conservator, two cicerones and a curator. As for the technical staff: four maintainers, four people for physical security and a cafe and souvenir shop are planned. Additional services were foreseen in the Park project, but were never realized.

The establishment and operation of the laboratory and the drafting of the conservation plan are expected to be completed by 2026. Archaeological research will continue.

"Establishment of the Management Unit; The integration of hiking trails and other assets such as the Graçanica Monastery, Veletini, Kishnica, the network of traces and galleries of ancient mines in the area of ​​Shashkoc and Janjeva and others within the tourist offer", are the goals with medium priority and that it is estimated to be completed by 2028. The Ministry of Culture and the Archaeological Institute are mainly responsible for these points. There are two deadlines for the establishment of the management unit. In another case, it is written that the deadline is 2026.

But since 2019, the archaeological sites have remained on "pause". In Ulpiana, they work one month a year and even with funding from the European Union and in cooperation with French institutions. The Archaeological Institute of Kosovo has had no machines for field work for years. They have been equipped with two for a month. However, they cannot use them as they have remained unregistered.