UNESCO Gives North Macedonia Deadline to Protect Ohrid

The UN cultural organisation UNESCO meeting at its 43rd session in Baku, Azerbaijan, has ordered North Macedonia to take measures to properly protect the heritage of the lakeside city of Ohrid - or be added to the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger.

A initially tougher report was met with amendments from several countries, which advocated giving North Macedonia more time to deal with the issue.

The initial report threatened to put the lakeside town of Ohrid and the surrounding area immediately on its list of endangered heritage sites, citing a persistent problem with uncontrolled urbanisation and illegal construction, which "had eroded the authenticity and integrity" of the site, it said.

The report noted that although some large construction projects that threatened to damage its authenticity were recently halted, the problem with many smaller illegal builds persists. The report also noted a "lack of adequate protection arrangements, with no adequate plan for protection in place".

The city mayor and the government have promised swift action. The municipality recently produced a report listing over 1,000 problematic builds, many of which lie within the premise of the old city.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev pledged that his government would act if the local authorities fail to do so. "The law must apply to everyone. If the municipality fails to act, the state will. If decisions [on removing illegal builds] are ignored, criminal responsibility will be sought", Zaev told reporters.

Ohrid, which sits beside the deepest and oldest lake in the Balkan semi-peninsula, is one of only 28 sites across the world that UNESCO has named a world heritage site in both the culture and nature categories.

Along with its natural...

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