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Former Yugoslav Republics Join Forces In Seeking Tombstone Protection

Officials from four former Yugoslav republics have expressed confidence that a joint bid to win United Nations protection for thousands of medieval tombstones will be successful.

Known as Stecci, the tombstones date to the 12th century and feature decorative symbols and carvings.

Some 60,000 have been found in Bosnia, and almost 10,000 in Serbia, Croatia, and Montenegro.

Bosnian Civil Affairs Minister Sredoje Novic said on March 10, "We expect UNESCO to add Stecci to the World Heritage List and place them under its protection."

He spoke at a ceremony in Sarajevo marking the completion of the formal nomination process, submitted to UNESCO in January after five years of joint work between the four countries torn apart by war in the 1990s.

Dubravko Lovrenovic, a Bosnian history professor and leader of the project, said the nomination is expected to be evaluated by mid-2016.

"We succeeded in showing that the South Slavic Balkans is not only the area of rivalries and destruction," he added.

Based on reporting by Reuters

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