Organized by the Government of Croatia and UNESCO, the regional meeting on the implementation and ratification of the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage in South-East Europe (30 September-1 October 2014) was attended by representatives of ministries of culture of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Turkey.
During this meeting held at the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology (ICUA) in Zadar, Croatia, high-level representatives from South-East Europe shared their experiences in ratifying and implementing the 2001 Convention, discussed some of the major issues that underwater cultural heritage faces, and formulated the respective recommendations to improve its safeguarding.
During the sessions, the necessity to improve access - including virtual access - to and the popularization of underwater cultural heritage emerged as a shared priority. Participants agreed on the key role of inter-institutional cooperation in planning, monitoring, as well as defining sustainable uses of underwater cultural heritage to confront pillage, looting, invasive fishing and other threats that underwater cultural heritage faces. The great potential of EU-financing opportunities was remarked and, to this end, the reinforcement of the networking and regional cooperation for fundraising highlighted.
Participants unanimously regarded the need to enhance the link between underwater cultural heritage and sustainable development as a key priority and a necessary condition to reinforce the safeguarding of underwater cultural heritage. Capacity building and regional cooperation were confirmed as a priority to work on.
An invitation to ratify the 2001 Convention was extended to all countries that have not yet done it. Renewal of the members of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Body to the Convention was finally reminded and participating countries were likewise invited to submit an application.