Director-General pays official visit to Mongolia

Director-General pays official visit to Mongolia
  • © UNESCO/ A. Vohra

From 26 to 29 July 2006, Koïchiro Matsuura undertook his second official visit to Mongolia, on the occasion of the fifth Children’s Performing Arts Festival in East Asia.

On 27 July, the Director-General, together with Mr Ulziisaikhan Enkhtuvshin, the Minister of Education, Science and Culture of Mongolia and Chairman of the Mongolian National Commission, inaugurated the Festival. Initiated within the framework of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010), UNESCO’s Children’s Performing Arts Festival is a unique event aimed at fostering dialogue and a culture of peace, especially among youth. Held on an annual basis, this year’s Festival brought together children from China, including the Macao Special Administrative Region, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan, Mongolia and the Republic of Korea.

In his opening remarks Mr Matsuura said: “As heirs to our cultural traditions, and the driving force behind tomorrow’s world, children play a crucial role in transmitting the values of tolerance and cultural diversity. With minds open to the world, and free from prejudice, they are our best ambassadors for peace”.

This year’s Festival also coincided with the 800th anniversary celebrations of the creation of the State of Mongolia, in which all UN agencies have been invited to taken an active part.

In his meeting with Mr Enkhtuvshin, the Director-General expressed his satisfaction at UNESCO’s excellent relations with Mongolia, especially in the areas of education and culture. He noted that since his previous visit to the country in 2002, several joint educational activities had been successfully undertaken, notably within the framework of UNESCO’s support to Mongolia’s establishment of a Mid-Term Master Plan for Improving Education for All. This support in particular includes institutional development and capacity-building within the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, and the development of ICTs in education to promote access to information for all.

The Director-General also noted with satisfaction achievements in the field of culture, congratulating the Mongolian Government on the inscription of two sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List (Uvs Nuur Basin, a Mongolian/Russian Federation trans-boundary natural site and Orkhn Valley Cultural Landscape), and on the proclamation of two Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (the Traditional Music of Morin Khuur, in 2003, and the Mongolian Traditional Long Song Urtiin Duu, in 2005). The Director-General said he was honoured to have the opportunity to personally hand-over the Certificate recognizing the Masterpiece of Urtiin Duu during his visit.

Following their discussion, the Director-General and the Minister of Education, Science and Culture signed a renewed Aide-Mémoire, outlining the main areas for future collaboration. These include the implementation of the Education Mid-Term Master Plan (2006-2015) which, in line with the national EFA Plan of Action, aims to achieve the goals of the Dakar Framework for Action by 2015. Mr Matsuura and the Minister also signed the Plan of Operations for the Phase II project “Provision of Comprehensive Mobile Educational and Cultural Services for Herders in Mongolia”. This project, which began in 2004 under the Japanese Fund-in-Trust, aims at expanding and improving educational and cultural services for herder households through such methods as the set-up and operation of mobile educational and cultural service centres and the introduction of home-based pre-school education as a model provision for pre-school education in the country.

On 28 July, the Director-General met with H. E. Mr Nambar Enkhbayar, President of Mongolia, who awarded him with the Polar Star Order, Mongolia’s highest distinction, in recognition of Mr Matsuura’s important contribution to the development of cooperation between Mongolia and UNESCO, as well as to the preservation of Mongolia’s natural and cultural heritage. In their meeting, the President thanked the Director-General for visiting Mongolia on the occasion of its 800th Anniversary and, on behalf of the people of Mongolia, expressed his gratitude for UNESCO’s support to the country in all its spheres of competence. The President also expressed satisfaction at the signing of the Aide-Memoire and the Plan of Operations for Phase II of the Japanese Fund-in-trust project, which he said clearly underscores the strong and growing partnership between Mongolia and UNESCO. To further enhance such collaboration, the President requested additional assistance in the fields of education and culture, particularly in curriculum development and in providing training to specialists in the registration of art objects in order to preserve the country’s cultural heritage. Regarding the latter, the Director-General informed the President that UNESCO was already implementing a project for the preservation of the movable assets of the Nomadic People of Mongolia, with special focus on the development of the Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum, and assured Mr Enkhbayar of the Organization’s continued support in this area. The Director-General also strongly encouraged the President to ratify the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Object in order to strengthen Mongolia’s position to demand the restitution of goods that have illicitly been removed from the country.

In their bilateral meeting, Miyeegombyn Enkhbold, the Prime Minister of Mongolia, and the Director-General agreed that cooperation between UNESCO and Mongolia was making strong headway, particularly in the areas of education and cultural heritage. The Director-General said that this partnership was being extended to other fields such as science, notably through UNESCO’s support in the establishment of a Master Plan on Science and Technology. Mr Enkbold thanked Mr Matsuura for such support, requesting special assistance in the field of freshwater, access to which is a major concern in Mongolia. Mr Matsuura announced UNESCO’s readiness to help Mongolia in this area thorough the creation – with the help of the UNESCO Beijing Office – of a UNESCO Chair on ground water management. Mr Enkhbold welcomed and expressed his appreciation for such support.

During his visit, the Director-General also held bilateral talks with Mr Ts. Tsolmon, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs and Vice-Chairman of the Mongolian National Commission, and with Mr S. Tumur-Ochir, Vice-Minister of Education, Culture and Science. Mr Matsuura participated in the Certificate Handover Ceremony recognizing the Mongolian Traditional Long Song Urtiin Duu as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity and designated the Mongolian Sumo wrestler Mr Davaajargal Munkhbat, also known as Hakuho, as UNESCO Artist for Peace. The Director-General also visited the Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts and the International Children’s Centre (ICC) Nairamdal.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash info n°124-2006
  • 01-08-2006
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