There is no doubt that Plovdiv's attempt to gain inscription was withdrawn by Bulgaria at the World Heritage Committee (WHC) held in Vilnius in 2006. See Decision 30 COM 8B.20 on page 140 of this document http://whc.unesco.org/archive/2006/whc06-30com-19e.pdf
Plovdiv has a very long history of attempts at gaining inscription through to the present day and provides an interesting vignette illustrating the ups and downs of former communist block WHS experience and changes in the interpretation and operation of the inscription process since 1979. If you are interested in these matters please read on!
Bulgaria was an early and in some respects, disproportionately, "significant player" in the World Heritage scheme. It is interesting to speculate why this might have been. It was by no means normal among Communist countries USSR didn't even bother to ratify the convention until 1988 just before its demise and the DDR which in other respects was so "όber-propaganist" in any matters which might demonstrate its "glory" only followed on its coat tails the same year. Poland was another "early joiner" but Hungary didn't accede until 1987, Romania until 1990 and Czechoslovakia didn't get its first site until 1993. In Bulgaria's case was it a few dedicated individuals for whom the scheme represented a chance for international contact whilst the government, unlike its communist neighbours, did see some propaganda benefit in gaining inscriptions? Anyone with knowledge about these years - please let us know!
So it was that Bulgaria obtained 4 inscriptions in the scheme's first year (1979). Interestingly it was a member of the WHC too! No scruples, a la Netherlands, in those days about not being on the WHC which inscribes your own sites! 3 more years of WHC membership was followed by a "year off" in 1983 in which it gained "reward for services rendered" in the form of another 4 inscriptions at the Florence WHC.
But at the same time, shock horror, Plovdiv was rejected! The WHC minutes state "The Committee also decided not to include the Ancient City of Plovdiv nominated by Bulgaria on the World Heritage List. The Committee considered that it was difficult at this stage to include urban sites on the list for their vernacular architecture and that the problems concerning the types of towns characteristic of the different regions of the World would first have to be clarified."
The Bureau meeting held in Paris in June 83 hadn't been quite as dogmatic its minutes state "The nomination file should be revised and completed by a list of urban and rural ensembles of specific types of Bulgarian architecture".
But why was the WHC so exercised about this "Vernacular Architecture" matter or was it just looking for a reason not to inscribe as many as 5 Bulgarian sites? That same year Nessebar was inscribed, among other reasons, because "The Turkish domination which coincided with a definite decline of Nessebar did not diminuate the monurrental heritage which was enriched from the 19th century by numerous houses in the "Plovdiv style". This vernacular architecture guarantees the cohesion of an urban fabric of high quality."
So, whilst Plovdiv was being rejected for its vernacular architecture, Nessebar was being inscribed (partly) because of its "Plovdivian style"!! Unfathomable are the ways of the WHC!
One might have expected that Plovdiv would have re-emerged the following year or soon thereafter having sorted out these "minor inconveniences" put in its way by the WHC! And indeed Bulgaria continued to play a significant role in the WHC throughout the 1980s but only obtained 1 more inscription. In 1975 an international conference held in Plovdiv by ICOMOS had led to the creation of the International Committee on Vernacular Architecture (CIAV) with its permanent seat in Plovdiv! Bulgaria was clearly a prime mover in all this presumably because of the energies of the lady appointed President of the Committee - a Dr Rachelle Anguelova. You can view numerous ICOMOS documents on Vernacular Architecture together with the history of the committee (including an indication of the level of financial support given to it by the Bulgarian government until 1992) on this sitehttp://www.international.icomos.org/publications/vernacular.htm
Given that Bulgaria was sitting in such a prime position on "matters vernacular" within ICOMOS it is even more surprising that Plovdiv didn't gain inscription I can only put it down to the fact that Dr Angualova was expecting TOO much of her own city otherwise she surely could have railroaded it through given her energies in other matters! In the mean time numerous other vernacular sites gained inscription e.g Holloko in 1987 and no more was ever heard (that I can discover) of the "difficulties" in inscribing urban vernacular architecture"! Again does anyone have any information about why Bulgaria failed to progress Plovdiv soon thereafter and how the ICOMOS/UNESCO "view" of vernacular architecture developed?
In 1989/90 of course communist Eastern Europe disappeared and its countries faced completely new challenges and the previous values used to assign resources to cultural sites were no longer present. But ICOMOS Bulgaria appears to have continued and it even held the General Assembly in 1997 though Dr Anguelova's name no longer figures whether because of the passage of time or for other reasons I know not. The next we hear of Plovdiv as a potential WHS is around 1999 when it obtains help from ICOMOS Japan to help conserve its vernacular buildings which appear by then to be suffering bad neglect. However a planned start for the project in 2003 is delayed until 2005 (Partly because of "UNESCO's administrative stagnation"!!!) and scheduled "completion" was delayed until 2007. I have not been able to discover whether it has even yet been completed. Anyone interested in a history of the project can look at http://www.japan-icomos.org/workgroup05/Ishi_Lecture.pdfhttp://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/110000195695/
It is interesting that gaining inscription is seen as being part of the solution for improvement of the condition of the site rather than improvement being solely a prerequisite. Up until now there has been little evidence of ICOMOS assessments of nominations taking this approach though the WHC has shown itself more prepared to "take a flyer" to bring sites into the fold before they are fully compliant.
Meanwhile in Sep 2004 Bulgaria added to its Tentative List and Plovdiv was included. We can't now tell if Plovdiv had been on the previous list submitted in 1984 and whether the 2004 submission was just an "update" but it appears probable that, following its rejection in 1983, it was excluded from the 1984 list.
We then have the amazing situation of Bulgaria putting forward Plovdiv in 2006 only to "withdraw" the nomination at the last minute presumably in the face of critical comments from ICOMOS (which of course we can't see as they don't get published). But why on earth had it made the nomination? Had it assumed that the restorative project would have been finished by 2006? Mr Ishii's lecture (link above) of August 2005 above showed quite clearly that the project wouldn't be complete by then. Perhaps Bulgaria hoped that ICOMOS would give it an easy ride in anticipation of project completion?
But Bulgaria certainly hasn't given up! The following report dated April 2009 indicates that Plovdiv is again actively discussing gaining inscription. But note
a. Reference to the bad condition of buildings even following the ICOMOS Japan project and the 2006 withdrawal.
b. The comment that, if it is rejected, it can't apply again for another 11 years. Where did they get that idea from? I have never heard it beforehttp://www.bulgaria-hotels.com/en/antique_plovdiv_city_to_become_part_of_unesco_s_wor ld_heritage.html
(see second post for completion)