The Athens Summit, entitled “Intercultural Encounters on Maritime, River and Lake Routes”, followed those of Ohrid (2003), Tirana (2004), Varna (2005), Opatja (2006) and Bucharest and Sibiu (2007), which have been organized annually under the auspices of UNESCO and the Council of Europe.
The meeting was attended by President Topi of Albania, President Silajdzic, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, President Parvanov of Bulgaria, President Mesic of Croatia, President Papoulias of the Hellenic Republic, President Vujanovic of Montenegro, President Tadic of Serbia, and high-level representatives of Turkey and Romania. Mr Anastassopoulos, President of UNESCO’s General Conference and Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic to UNESCO, also participated in this Summit meeting and accompanied Mr Matsuura during his bilateral talks with the country authorities.
In his address, the Director-General explained that “through these high-level encounters, [the region’s leaders] have firmly and repeatedly demonstrated [their] will to cooperate on cultural issues, reflecting culture’s critical role in replacing strife with mutual understanding. Thus, the Summit of South-East Europe has become a regional forum of dialogue and cooperation for political leaders at the highest level”.
Expressing his appreciation for the tribute the Heads of State paid in their interventions to the role UNESCO has played in this context, Mr Matsuura stated that the Athens Summit attested the leaders’ commitment “to develop joint policies and engage in intercultural dialogue through water itineraries, in partnership with international organizations”. The Director-General outlined a series of UNESCO initiatives on which such policies and projects could be built and concluded by expressing his wish that “the Athens Summit will contribute, literally, to building bridges across the water routes of the past.”
At the closure of the Summit, the Heads of State adopted the Athens Declaration which emphasizes the role of cultural routes, itineraries and corridors as platforms for regional cooperation and foresees the development of a pool of joint projects on Cultural Water Routes as a means to contribute to stability and peace in the region.
On the margins of the Summit, the Director-General held bilateral talks with the Presidents of the Hellenic Republic, Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia, and the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Mr Liapis, Greek Minister of Culture. Mr Matsuura also met Mrs Marianna Vardionyannis, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
The next regional Summit of South-East Europe will be hosted by President Vujanovic of Montenegro on the theme of “Management of heritage diversity and its promotion for tourism” in June 2009.
Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 073-2008 - Publication Date: 17-06-2008