Chargé Remarks at AFCP Vushtrri Castle Inauguration, Vushtrri
As Delivered June 11, 2012
Thank you to the Mayor, the Minister and of course, the folks who have worked on this project, for having me here today.
I am pleased to be back in Vushtrri again. I was here during the Spring for the inauguration of the first phase of restoration work here at Vushtrri Castle. Since I am completing my three-year tour in Kosovo soon, it’s really wonderful to be back here today to see the first phase completed.
Of course, that’s not the only reason we are here today. We are here to initiate the second phase of this project and officially launch the campaign “Cultural Heritage is yours, too.”
Kosovo's culture is an exceptionally rich one, with influences from a variety of peoples and ethnic groups. To ensure a proud and progressive future for Kosovo, we must all work to preserve and protect every part of its multi-ethnic past. The Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, which funded this project and the other projects we are celebrating today (as well as many others in Kosovo), has aimed to do just that.
Ambassador Dell and I have made cultural heritage preservation a priority during our time here. In addition to the work at Vushtrri Castle, which is near and dear to my heart, we have supported restoration at the Gazi Mehmed Pasha Library in Prizren, the Ethnographic Museum in Gjakova, the Kosovo Museum in Pristina, and the Haxhi Zeka Kulla in Peja. Just last year, we were able to obtain an additional $1.5 million American dollars for cultural heritage preservation projects in Kosovo.
I have had the pleasure of travelling around Kosovo a lot over the last three years, visiting many of your historic sites, and trying to capture some of these in my photography. Last time I was here, I very much enjoyed seeing the historic photos you had out of the people of Vushtrri and the castle. I look forward to seeing the beginnings of your museum here and I hope that you integrate some of that photography in the final museum because I think that brings it really to life.
But of course today, our focus is the completion of the work on the grant provided to Cultural Heritage without Borders to help preserve the Vushtrri Castle, and the start of the new project of nearly half a million American dollars to support the continuation of this project to preserve and protect this culturally important historic site in the middle of this city. We have heard a lot of terrific stories about this landmark and what it means to you and your community and we are happy to be a part of helping preserve it.
The project here will ensure accessibility of the castle, its usage by the public and support the ongoing work at the site. And most importantly, there will be a comprehensive management plan that will develop the castle’s social and economic potential to ensure that it has continued relevance to contemporary life here in Vushtrri.
The restoration of the Castle is very delicate work, and Cultural Heritage without Borders has and will continue to need support from the Ministry of Culture, the Municipality, and, most importantly, You -- the citizens of this city. I have been impressed with this campaign and the volunteerism that is part of it.
Volunteerism is an important part of the American social-cultural milieus as well. We are thrilled to see these joint efforts between members of the community, the government and civil society.
So today is a day of celebration, for reflecting on Kosovo’s cultural past, and looking towards its future as well. I want to thank you for your efforts and we look forward to continuing with you in the future.