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Cultural heritage is of outmost importance and receives its special protection as stated in the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia. Current legislation (Act on the Protection and Preservation of Cultural Property) defines all types of cultural property and cultural-historical areas.
The Register of Cultural Goods is a public book of cultural documents kept by the Ministry of Culture. By February 2016, it contains a total of 8945 cultural goods, of which 6508 are immovable cultural goods. Of the total number of immovable goods, 565 are cultural-historical areas and 12 are cultural landscapes. There are 2293 movable heritage (collections and individual cultural goods) and 144 intangible cultural goods inscribed, while the archaeological heritage comprises of 1075 protected sites, whether underwater or above ground, throughout the entire territory of the Republic of Croatia. Currently, Ministry of Culture is working on the amendments of the Strategy for the Preservation, Protection and Sustainable Economic Exploitation of the Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Croatia for 2011-2015 drafting on a new national strategy for a new period.
The Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage consists of two sectors; the Sector for the Protection of Cultural Heritage and the Sector for Conservation Departments and Inspection, the latter comprising Conservation Departments and Offices for the Regions (21) and the City Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Nature of the City of Zagreb. The Service for Inspection Affairs of the Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage supervises the application of legal regulations.
Institutions for the protection and preservation of cultural goods are restoration institutes or other restoration institutions as well as museums, galleries, archives, libraries and other public institutions in the field of culture, which in the framework of their activities, carry out tasks related to preservation, renovation and protection of cultural property. Tasks related to restoration, conservation and renovation of cultural property are performed by the Croatian Restoration Institute a public institution in the ownership of the Republic of Croatia. The Institute for Restoration of Dubrovnik performs activities in organization and implementation of the Restoration programme of endangered historic centre of Dubrovnik. The Agency for the Renovation of the Osijek Citadel is established as a public institution in charge of preparation, organization and implementation of programmes for protection and revitalization of the Osijek Citadel. Along with the aforementioned institutions, the tasks of research, analysis, record-keeping, restoration, conservation and preservation of cultural property may be performed by specialised legal or physical persons. The Minister of Culture prescribes the conditions to be fulfilled by legal or physical persons in order to acquire permits to carry out these works.
Municipalities, towns and counties may act independently in decision-making in the framework of their self-governmental scope of work (some municipalities and towns employ staff to deal with cultural issues including projects concerning cultural heritage such as the launching of rehabilitation projects – some are more active than others in this respect). Town and County Administrative Departments for Culture monitor and coordinate activities in the framework of implementation of projects of immovable and movable cultural heritage protection and preservation
The current legislation on cultural heritage (in Croatian only):
- Act on the Ratification of the Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage (OG International Conventions 10/04).
- Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe, Granada, 1985 (OG 6/94)
- Convention on the protection of cultural goods in the event of armed conflict and its Protocol relating to the prohibition on exports of cultural goods from occupied territories (OG, International Conventions, 6/94).
- Act on the Ratification of the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects, drawn up in Rome, 24 June 1995 (OG, International Conventions, 5/00, 6/02 promulgation).
- Act on the Ratification of the European Convention on the Protection of Archaeological Heritage (revised), 1992, drawn up in Valetta, 16 January 1992 (OG International Conventions, 4/04 and 9/04 promulgation).
- Act on the Ratification of the Convention on the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage (OG International Conventions 5/05, 5/07 promulgation).
- UNESCO Convention on Measures to Protect and Prevent Unauthorised Imports, Exports and Transfer of Cultural Goods (OG International Conventions, 12/93).
- Convention on the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage (OG International Conventions, 12/93: adopted in Paris, 1972). The Republic of Croatia became a party to the Convention pursuant to the notification of succession of 8 October 1991 (Entered into force on 8 October 1991).
- Regulation on the promulgation of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Croatia and the Government of the United States of America on the protection and preservation of certain cultural goods (OG International Conventions, 9/06, 2/07 promulgation)
- Act on the Ratification of the Second Protocol to the Convention on the Protection of Cultural Goods in the Event of Armed Conflict (OG International Conventions 11/05)
- Act on the Ratification of the Framework Convention of the Council of Europe on the value of cultural heritage to society (OG International Conventions 5/07)
- Regulation on the Ratification of the Treaty between UNESCO and the Government of the Republic of Croatia on the Establishment of the Regional Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar, Croatia, as a Category II Centre under the auspices of UNESCO (OG 1/09)
- Act on the Ratification of the Convention on European Landscapes (OG 12/02)