Serbian architects rally to save bombed Yugoslav Defence Ministry

Serbian architects rally to save bombed Yugoslav Defence Ministry
(Image: Not home under a CC licence)

24 March 2017

If you’ve been to Belgrade, you’ve likely seen the city’s most famous ruin. Many consider the former Yugoslav Defence Ministry, bombed by NATO in 1999, a key piece of cultural heritage, while others see it as an eyesore — a group of local architects are now protesting the government’s decision to demolish part of this significant site.

Independent Serbian architecture association, the Academy of Architecture (AoA), believe that government plans to demolish part of the building would constitute a huge cultural loss. Although the building was placed on a list of protected heritage sites in 2005, the AoA report and decry the inaction of state institutions responsible for protecting cultural monuments in the face of these plans.

The AoA have sent letters of protest to media outlets in order to make known the impending fate of the building

“They shouldn’t wait for someone to complain, they have to react, that is their duty. We have been listening to government officials for months, calling for the demolition of something that is [Serbia’s] cultural heritage,” the head of the AoA, Bojan Kovačević, told Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.

Despite beginning reconstruction in July 2015, the Serbian government has performed a U-turn and decided to demolish part of the former Yugoslav Defence Ministry. Of particular concern to the AoA is the fact that the plans for this project have not been made public.

While a government statement affirms that the decision was taken because the building poses a risk to passing pedestrians, Mr Kovačević argues that it was already stabilised during the early stages of reconstruction.

But perhaps it all simply comes down to money — a report by investigative website Insajder estimates that demolition would cost the government just 180 million dinars ($1.57 million), compared to 950 million dinars ($8.27 million) for reconstruction.

In 2013, then Prime Minister Ivica Dačić reportedly met with Donald Trump regarding turning the site into a hotel — perhaps the AoA can at least take solace in knowing that this particular plan came to nothing…

Source: Balkan Insight