United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

The Director-General holds talks with President Medvedev of the Russian Federation

From 9 to 12 June 2008, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, paid his eighth visit as the Director-General to the Russian Federation.

As a highlight of the visit, Mr Matsuura had an extended discussion with Dmitry Medvedev, President of Russia. Preceding that, they participated in the opening of the 10th World Congress of the Russian press.

The anniversary Congress of the Russian Press brought together representatives from more than 70 countries. Speaking at the ceremony, the Director-General highlighted “the value that UNESCO attaches to addressing the communications and information challenges facing the international community in these early years of the twenty first century”. Mr Matsuura referred to UNESCO’s constitutional commitment to promote ‘the free flow of ideas by word and image’ and underscored the importance of languages in this regard, in particular as we celebrate 2008 as the International Year of Languages.

During his stay in Moscow, the Director-General had also talks with Mr Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mr Andrey Fursenko, Minister of Education and Science; Ms Ludmilla Shvetsova, First Deputy Mayor of Moscow; the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexis II and Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad Kirill; Mr Vitaly Ignatenko, Director-General of ITAR-TASS Russian News Agency and President of the World Association of Russian Press; UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors Zurab Tsereteli and Ara Abramyan, and Mr Viatcheslav Fetisov, UNESCO Champion for Sport and President of the Conference of the Parties to the International Convention against Doping in Sport.

In his meetings, the Director-General expressed his appreciation about the cooperation of the Russian Federation with UNESCO that he felt had immensely strengthened over the recent years. UNESCO has established close working relations in all its spheres of competence not only with the federal authorities, but also with the Moscow city authorities and various regions of the Russian Federation.

President Medvedev, referring to the G8 Summit meeting organized in St. Petersburg in 2006 in which the Director-General had participated, highlighted the importance of the world leaders to honor their commitment to the Education for All. The President also expressed his appreciation for UNESCO’s assistance in restoring the education system in the Chechen Republic.

With regard to the field of culture, the Director-General outlined UNESCO’s action in promoting inter-cultural and inter-ethnic dialogue, in particular in South-East Europe. He also welcomed the pledge of the Russian authorities to contribute, both financially as well as through the provision of expertise, towards UNESCO’s efforts to rehabilitate cultural and religious heritage in Kosovo (Republic of Serbia).

Based on a Memorandum of Cooperation signed in November 2007, UNESCO’s cooperation with the city of Moscow focuses, among other areas, on early childhood education and foresees the organization of a World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education in Moscow in 2010. The Director-General also expressed UNESCO’s readiness to step up its cooperation with the Foundation for Intergovernmental Cooperation in the Humanitarian Fields in CIS countries.

On the occasion of the World Congress of the Russian Press, the Director-General announced the designation of Mr Vitaly Ignatenko, President of the World Association of Russian Press, President of the CIS News Agencies Association, President of the Asia-Pacific News Agencies Organization and Chairman of the International Board of News Agencies, as UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassador in recognition of “his work to strengthen educational, scientific, cultural and information exchanges among all Russian language speakers and for his efforts to promote Russian language cultural and information space around the world”.

On 10 June, the Director-General received an honorary doctorate from Professor Philippov, Rector of the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, and delivered a lecture on the challenges facing higher education at the beginning of the 21st century.

During his stay in Moscow, the Director-General addressed the Round Table of the Children’s and Youth Forum “Olympic Friendship” and visited, together with the First Deputy Mayor of Moscow, Kolomenskoye Museum-Reserve including the World Heritage-listed Church of the Ascension.

Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 072-2008 -  Publication Date: 13-06-2008

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