International Committee to Save                    Farsi translation 

the Archeological Sites of Pasargad                        Video in French


Exclusive interview with Francesco Bandarin,

Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris


By Saeid Movahed

on Thursday, June 1st, 2006



Part I.


Q: Mr. Bandarin, how long have been  in this position? Also would it be possible to  name the organizations under your supervision and their activities?


A: It has been about six years. The activities and responsibilities of these organizations,  and there is a number of them, could be divided into three main groups: 1) preparing and distributing  internal reports regarding World Heritage sites, organizing various sessions with subject matter experts, announcing and publishing these reports across the world; 2) providing technical assistance and expertise to those countries that are in need of renovation and conservation of the World Heritage; 3) printing and publishing the information regarding the activities accomplished by the organization, creating new web sites targeting future generation for conservation and safeguarding world historical-cultural heritage.  


Q: As the Director of this organization, what is your evaluation of the relationship and information exchange with your Iranian counterparts?


A: As you know, I have recently returned from Iran. Also another team from our organization along with members of UNESCO office in Tehran and Iranian authorities are currently in the process of organizing seminars regarding cultural sites of World Heritage in cultural landscape of Persepolis. I could say that we currently have a relatively good relationship with them. Meanwhile, considering the high importance and great value of Iran in the world, due to many of its sites being part of the “World Heritage”, I am quite glad that we are having a series of talks and meeting with their representatives in UNESCO. 


Q: As you had indicated in your interview in Tehran on May 20th, would you please explain in more detail the potential risks resulting from the on-going development projects in Iran, including Sivand dam project and Pasargadae area?


A: During my stay in Iran, I visited several areas, including Sivand dam, which is highly important. Unfortunately, I have to say that UNESCO cannot by itself prevent the implementation of this and other development projects. These projects, such as building ports, bridges, roads, etc. that are necessary for economic growth and industrialization of a country, have always caused difficulties and harm. For example, Sivand dam, which has been under construction for many years and still not completed, has two main problems. One is  presence of archeological and important Bolaghi gorge that is located between Pasargadae and the historical city of Persepolis as well as the road that connects these two sites. This historical road has been in existence since Achaemenid dynasty period. The other problem is  the environmental impact in the entire area.


Q:  What is your impression and judgment regarding the risks involved in flooding of Sivand dam and constructing its lake?


A: Flooding of Sivand dam willinevitably submerge most of the area. Some of these areas are less important than the areas listed as “World Heritage”, and there are many such areas in Iran. However, another important  point is environmental  impact of the lake on the underground water plates. It is difficult to measure this impact since the lake’s is not very large. However, it is important to note that Cyrus Mausoleum is  about 25 kilometers from the lake and therefore no risk must be taken in this regard. Since Pasargadae is registered in the list of “World Heritage”, we will continue our research until we obtain more accurate information about the damage of flooding the dam.


Q:  So far, have you received an official report from the authorities and the  officials in charge of this project?


A: No. We have been aware of this issue for a while. I have also personally talked with Mr. Zargar, one of the officials in charge, several times and have discussed with him the risks and the potential damages associated with this project. But so far, I have had no report from them.


Q:  Don’t you think that the Iranian government and authorities may go forward with flooding the dam without notifying UNESCO? Or do you think they would contact you first?


A: UNESCO has not made such a request yet. We have asked them that the necessary research and evaluation in the areas that are at risk must continue, and the safeguarding of new areas should also continue. But the final decision is to be made by the government, not us. If the project of flooding the dam results in direct damage on the “World Heritage”, we cannot take any specific action. We will continue our own research on the future impacts and have asked them to provide the UNESCO  archaeology teams in the area (from five countries: Germany, United Kingdom, Poland, Italy, and Japan) with all the necessary means – and this has taken place. As you know many dams are built across the globe that encounter problems. However, we still have the chance to be present in the area and be able to easily continue our inquiry and research with the government assistance.