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24. November 2012.

Source: Politika daily / On the occasion of putting the square in order, the local authorities cooperated with the Institute for Protection of Cultural Heritage, but the monument to LAPBM members was erected without the Institute’s consent 

Which procedure had to be implemented and which governmental body is in charge of the controversial monument to LAPBM members, who are members of the Albanian paramilitary formation that attacked the police, army and civilians in the region in 2000 and 2001? The square in Presevo was previously treated as a spatial entity, while the carrying out of any works in it required the approval of the Nis Institute for Protection of Cultural Heritage, which the local government had failed to do.

Mile Veljkovic, Director of the Institute for Protection of Cultural Heritage in Nis, said that the said institution, through the urban planning documentation, prescribed the requirements both for other monuments of historic value ​​in Presevo and for the square itself, and added that all activities had to be taken in accordance with the requirements prescribed by the Institute and the rules of the conservation profession.

“When carrying out the reconstruction of the square, the Presevo municipal authorities repeatedly called up and consulted the architect in our Vranje office, but they didn’t announce that a new memorial would be put up there.” 

The Institute’s architect gave the instructions and entered into the building log the orders for what and how should be done. The Institute was neither consulted nor informed about the erection of the monument, although the local authorities were obliged to do so, because the Institute, through the urban planning documentation, had prescribed the requirements for treating the monument,” Mr. Veljkovic said.  

In this case, as well as in similar cases, when the Institute’s experts perform any works in a protected area for which they did not give their consent, they may report them to the relevant building inspection, because as a cultural institution, they don’t have their own inspection services.  As they said at the Institution, that’s how they will act in the case of the monument in Presevo.

Although often laying claim to the adjective "historical", and in this situation, often "controversial," a monument or a memorial is treated as a small prefabricated building of a temporary nature which is the responsibility of the local self-government. This means that, unlike the naming of streets and squares, where the necessary approval from the Ministry of Regional Development and Local Self-government is required, in the case of the erection of monuments or memorials, no historical assessment of the importance of a person that one wishes to perpetuate is required, which would be provided by a republican body.   However, if one considers that those figures or events don’t  deserve a monument, but on the contrary - a condemnation, because of their historic roles, one may file criminal charges with the police or the prosecutor’s office for instigation of racial, religious or ethnic hatred or disturbance of peace, and then these authorities can take the appropriate measures.

In accordance with the Law on Planning and Construction, the erection and removal of monuments and memorials in public places is governed and done by local self-governments.  Thus, the Ministry of Regional Development and Local Self-government has no legal power to act in the case of the monument to LAPBM members.

“By law, the competent prosecutor’s office may instigate criminal proceedings for the incitement of national, racial and religious hatred, hostility or other offenses.  The police may respond to the misdemeanor charges for peace disturbance, while the citizens may file a request for the municipal utility inspections to carry out the inspection and to adopt a decision on removal of the monument, since it was put up without following the prescribed procedure and without the competent body’s decision. The Ministry of Regional Development and Local Self-government says that the municipal council decides about an appeal to the decision.