Radical plan for crumbling Czech monuments draws criticism
The sorry state of hundreds of Czech historical buildings and other registered landmarks has prompted a radical proposal. Deputy Czech ombudsman Stanislav Křeček has suggested that regardless of who owns a monument the authorities should pay for its renovation – and then demand that the owner foots the bill. In the most severe cases, the state should be able to confiscate the properties.
There are roughly 40,000 registered historical landmarks in the Czech Republic. However, the very existence of some 740 of them, including the Ostravica-Textilia complex, is threatened by severe disrepair.
The case of the Ostrava department store has recently been reviewed by the office of the ombudsman. But deputy ombudsman Stanislav Křeček concluded that although the complex faces demolition, no one can be held legally responsible.
“As in cases of risk to public safety, the state should be take care of the object’s renovation if the owners fail to do so themselves. The state should then demand the costs from the owners, and possibly confiscate the building. That would be an effective way of protecting our cultural heritage.”
The National Heritage Institute, which manages over 100 state-owned castles, chateaus, churches and other sites, has rejected the suggestion that they should be put in charge of confiscated properties.
For their part, the Czech Ministry of Culture said they preferred “positive incentives” for monument owners. This is the right approach, says Aleš Kozák, the head of Institute for Monuments and Culture, an NGO that provides consultations to monument owners.
Deputy ombudsman Stanislav Křeček however hopes that his proposals will be taken into account when new legislation on the protection of national heritage is being finalized.