Putting the Bokelj Navy on UNESCO’s Representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity sparkled tensions last year as Montenegro and Croatia have different opinions on the matter. Montenegro’s initiative to include the Bokelj Navy on UNESCO’s World Heritage List provoked strong reactions in Croatia, and even the Croatian Parliament tackled this issue. Beside all this, Montenegro independently submitted the application, emphasizing that it’s a cultural heritage belonging to Montenegro.
In an interview with Pobjeda daily, the Navy’s admiral Antun Sbutega, said Croatia and Croatian National Council still greatly impede Montenegrin candidacy for UNESCO.
He said: “I’d say the Bokelj Navy’s greatest success for the last two centuries has been the UNESCO nomination, being the first intangible cultural heritage of Montenegro. We received support of the Presidency of Montenegro, the Government of Montenegro, especially the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Boka’s municipalities, cultural institutions, civil society and citizens. Drafting up of the documents for application was a long and complex job led by Milica Nikolić and we’re truly thankful to her. UNESCO informed us that our nomination has met the technical requirements and they are currently assessing it.”
When asked why it wasn’t possible to submit the application of the Navy jointly by Montenegro and Croatia, Sbutega said that Croatia had exaggerated with the reactions with no any valid argument.
“The topic was discussed in the Parliament of Montenegro, Croatian Parliament and the European Parliament, while we were constantly exposed to mass media campaign where Montenegro had been denied its right to candidate the Navy for the UNESCO World Heritage List, as Croats insisted it was their cultural heritage. We really do not need anyone to teach us about our roots, as we have learned that very well over 1,210 years,” Sbutega added.
The Boka Navy was established on 13 January 809 and it’s closely connected with the cult of St. Tryphon and Kotor.