Community-led Urban Strategies in Historic Towns (COMUS) is a two-year joint programme between the European Union and the Council of Europe mobilised in five participating countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Building on the results of its predecessor programme, the Kyiv Initiative (2009-2011), COMUS will support collaboration between national ministries and local stakeholders to promote reinvestment in historic towns.
Of the ten small- to medium-sized historic towns chosen for the Kyiv Initiative (Abastumani, Akhaltsikhe, Borjomi, Chiatura, Dusheti, Gori, Mestia, Poti, Telavi, and Tskhaltubo) two pilot towns will be selected to serve as models in implementing strategic revitalisation projects. The pilot towns will test targeted interventions on their historic resources intended to improve living conditions, create social cohesion, and foster sustainable economic development. Interventions will follow an interdisciplinary local development approach, which considers built heritage to be an economic and social factor rather than a matter of technical conservation or restoration.
As an early example of heritage-based, place-specific sustainable development policy in Georgia, COMUS can provide a framework for future urban rehabilitation policies at the national and local level. The interdisciplinary nature of the programme creates the opportunity for Ministries of Culture to propose innovative partnerships with local authorities, and will also develop new ways to collaborate with other planning and development Ministries, contributing to increased inter-ministerial co-operation. Results in the pilot towns will serve as examples to stimulate discussion regarding other historic towns facing similar development challenges. Finally, lessons learned from the COMUS project will provide a basis for identifying and suggesting legal and institutional reform.