The current legal and organisational framework of the historical and cultural heritage of Moldova is based on the Law on Historical Monument Protection (1993) and the Law on Museums (2002).
The Law on Historical Monument Protection protects monuments via a State-Protected Monuments Register. The concept of “monument” includes both immovable and movable cultural assets. Applications must be filed and approved by the government and the Parliament before monuments can be officially registered.
In accordance with the legislation in force, decisions of state bodies responsible for the protection of monuments are binding on all individuals and legal entities. Conditions for the exercise of property rights on monuments apply to all property right holders, irrespective of the type of ownership and legal status of the owner.
The right to use state monuments as immovable assets is, in accordance with the legislation, within the power of the parliament, and county, city, town or municipal councils, depending on the status of the protected monument.
The right to use monuments as movable assets is, consequently, allocated by the government, prefect’s offices and municipal administrations.
The Law on Museums establishes the general legal framework for the organisation and functioning of the museums in the Republic of Moldova. According to Article 2 of the Law, the state grants equal opportunities to all museums, irrespective of their specialisation and form of ownership.
Museums are non-profit institutions. Their responsibility is to safeguard and develop the country’s cultural heritage in accordance with their special profile, to do research, to design and implement cultural and scientific projects aiming at the development of the community, to publish catalogues of the museums’ collections and other relevant materials, and to initiate exchange programmes and co-operation with other national and international museums (Article 5 and 6).
Article 16 specifies the organisation of museums, their rights and obligations.
The public museums are funded via the state budget and other sources. Museums are funded by the state budget and local budgets through approved projects and programmes or co-financed by other public or private funds, regardless of their form of ownership (Article 28 (1), (2)).
On September 17, 2010, the Parliament adopted the Law on Archaeological Heritage. This new law includes mechanisms for fighting the black market in the archaeological field. The law was drafted over a five year period and the working group in charge consulted experts from the U.S., Germany, Ukraine and Romania. Up to now, the legislation did not guarantee the protection of monuments, whereas the new legal framework creates real preconditions for safeguarding archaeological heritage.
As for the legal framework in the field of cultural heritage protection in recent years it has been significantly improved, with the following legal documents being adopted: Law on the protection of the archaeological heritage No. 218 of September 17, 2010; Law on Public Forum Monuments No. 192 of September 30, 2011; Law on protection of the national mobile cultural heritage No. 280 of December 27, 2011; Law on protection of intangible cultural heritage No. 58 of March 29, 2012 and several amendments were made in the laws on the national heritage. In the process of major changes, there is the Law on protection of historical monuments, which will replace the existing law in operation since 1993. In the same context, the Republic of Moldova has signed and ratified ten international conventions on cultural heritage.
“The Black Book of Chisinau Cultural Patrimony” contains information about buildings that are under threat. This book warns local and central public authorities and civil society about the necessity of taking immediate measures to protect the cultural heritage. In the last years, 76 of the 977 archaeological buildings were demolished, while 155 monuments were modified without authorisation. The phenomenon of black market archaeology is widely spread throughout Moldova. There are about 150 treasure hunters who use metal detectors illegally.