During their bilateral meeting, the President and the Director-General discussed the current status of UNESCO’s cooperation with Croatia, which they both defined as being rich and varied, particularly in the field of culture.
Since their first meeting during the Director-General’s first official visit to Croatia in June 2002, Mr Matsuura and President Mesić had met on nine occasions, including the Regional Summits of Heads of State of South-East Europe organized under UNESCO’s auspices in Ohrid (2003), Tirana (2004), Varna (2005), Opatja (2006) and Bucharest (2007).
Mr Matsuura reiterated UNESCO’s continued commitment to promoting dialogue among the countries of South-East Europe, not only through the organization of the Heads of State Summit, but also through the meetings of Ministers of Culture. The forth Ministerial Conference on Cultural Heritage in South-East Europe entitled “Cultural Heritage – a Bridge towards a Shared Future” had been held in Zadar, Croatia, in September 2007.
Zadar also hosts an International Centre for Underwater Archaeology, which was approved as a category 2 centre under UNESCO’s auspices by the General Conference at its last session. Paying tribute to the important role Croatia played in promoting the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural heritage, the Director-General expressed his satisfaction at the prospect of further developing cooperation in this area. The established Centre aims to contribute to international cooperation on underwater cultural heritage through the training on the conservation and the restoration of underwater findings.
Mr Matsuura highlighted Croatia’s rich cultural heritage: the country has 6 sites inscribed on the World Heritage List, two new nominations to be studied at the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee in Quebec, and a number of sites on the Tentative List. The Director-General also expressed his appreciation at Croatia’s contribution towards the preservation of cultural heritage in neighbouring countries, mentioning in particular the assistance provided towards the reconstruction of the Mostar Bridge in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
During the ensuing luncheon that the Director-General hosted in the honour of President Mesić, the discussion focused on Kosovo (Republic of Serbia), where UNESCO plays an important role in the preservation of its cultural heritage.
The Director-General told the President that he looked forward to their next meeting at the Regional Summit of the Heads of State of South-East Europe that is to be held in Athens on 13 June 2008.
Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 201-2007 - Publication Date: 18-12-2007