Every year, the Czech Republic, known as a country rich in history and culture, attracts millions of tourists. But many of the country's heritage sites have not been given the care and protection they deserve. All this week, concerts and seminars will be held at Prague's St. Michael's Church to raise awareness of heritage sites - mostly churches - and to find alternative ways of using them while preserving their historic and cultural value.
The Czech Republic has been elected to the UNESCO Executive Council at the 32nd session of the UNESCO General Conference to replace half of the 58 council members. The Czech Republic will be represented in the council by senator Jaroslava Moserova who also chairs the Czech UNESCO commission and who was chairwoman of the UNESCO General Conference between 1999 and 2001. Mrs. Moserova said earlier that she would like to work on the human rights committee. The election of the Czech Republic to the UNESCO Executive Council is seen as an evidence of the country's good position in the organisation.
Today I'm in Trebic, a town in south-west Moravia with a very rich history. Recently Trebic has been in the headlines, because its former Jewish quarter and St Procopius basilica were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. But before we visit those places, let's hear a bit about the history of Trebic from Town Hall spokesman Ivan Pribik, whose family have lived here for seven generations.
The former Jewish quarter and the St. Procopius Basilica in the Moravian town of Trebic were added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites on Thursday. The quarter and Basilica increased the total number of Czech monuments registered on the UNESCO list to twelve, with the Trebic Jewish quarter as the first Jewish monument outside of Israel to added to the list.
While many Czech towns, cities and buildings are already on UNESCO's World Heritage List, the Cesky raj region in north-east Bohemia - famous for its sandstone formations - aims to be the first natural site in the Czech Republic on the list, and the application was made at UNESCO headquarters in Paris last week. Alena Skodova reports:
The UNESCO Secretary General, Koichiro Matsuura, called on to the international community on Saturday to mobilise its forces to save world heritage sites from damage by extensive floods in Central Europe. Mr Matsuura said that UNESCO and its World Heritage Centre needed to provide all the technical and financial assistance available to help restore the flood damaged cultural heritage. He also expressed deep regret over the damaged centre of the Czech capital Prague, its old Jewish quarter, and the south Bohemian town of Cesky Krumlov. Both Prague and Cesky Krumlov were entered in the UNESCO list of world heritage sites in 1992. Mr Matsuura furthermore wrote a letter to President Vaclav Havel to support his call for international aid to the Czech Republic.