As a reward for the many years of consistent effort the Old Town of Corfu was officially included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List on April 19 at the island’s Castle of St Michael and St George. Overcoming quite a few obstacles over the years the project has finally ended in success. The Corfu branch of the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE) and its president, Costas Vlassis initiated the effort to get on the list in 1998. It was said that a representative of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), who visited Corfu in 2000 to make a report, did not get a fitting reception from the local authorities. Additionally, due to the lack of management plan in the bid file the proposal was not submitted in 2002.
However, nothing can come in the way of an idea whose time has finally come especially when the right person for the job steps up to the plate. Corfu Parliamentary Deputy Nikos Dendias took action in the fall of 2004 and visited the UNESCO office in Athens. He started working with its permanent representative, former Ambassador Alexandros Rallis, regarding getting Corfu’s name up again for the list.
Asking for the government to present Corfu as a competitive candidate, Dendias maintained constant contact with Unesco in Paris and Athens, as well as with the Culture Ministry. Appointment of Giorgos Anastassopoulos, former vice president of the European Parliament, as Unesco’s permanent representative in Greece presented the ideal turning point. Thanks to his experience and standing, he achieved the quick and effective cooperation of the Culture Ministry.
Finally, last Saturday, the certificate enrolling the Old Town of Corfu on the World Heritage List was handed over to Culture Ministry General Secretary Theodoros Dravillas by Unesco’s World Heritage Center representative.