During their discussions, the President and the Director-General expressed satisfaction about the state of cooperation between UNESCO and Albania, particularly in the field of culture. Since Mr Matsuura’s first visit to Albania in 2001, the country had ratified the major culture-related UNESCO Conventions – the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Albania had two sites inscribed on the World Heritage List – Butrint (1992) and the historic centres of Gjirokastra and Berat (2005 and 2008) – and the Albanian folk iso-polyphony included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (2008). The President expressed his appreciation about UNESCO’s assistance to Albania in the field of education and scientific research and mentioned Albania’s contribution to the promotion and preservation of cultural heritage in Kosovo [Serbia].
President Topi paid tribute to the personal contribution of Mr Matsuura to the promotion of cooperation between the countries of South-East Europe and UNESCO, as well as among themselves. He told the Director-General that since the launching of the regional Heads of State level Summit meetings under the auspices of UNESCO in 2003, the leaders of the region had many more occasions to meet and discuss issues of mutual interest, and that the regional cooperation had increased considerably. Mr Matsuura said he was very pleased to note the positive developments in South-East Europe over the past years.
With regard to the bilateral cooperation between Albania and UNESCO, the Director-General underscored that it had benefited from the fact that Albania was a Delivering as One pilot country and that UNESCO was successfully cooperating with the other UN agencies as a member of the UN Country Team, including on the joint projects implemented in the framework of the UNDP/ Spanish MDG Fund.
After his meeting with the President, the Director-General visited Berat, which had been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2008. Accompanied by Ms Gülden Türköz-Cosslett, UN Resident Coordinator in Albania, Mr Matsuura was greeted upon his arrival by Mr Genc Pollo, Deputy Prime Minister of Albania and Chairman of the Albanian National Commission for UNESCO, and Mr Fadil Nasufi, Mayor of Berat. During his discussions with the Deputy Prime Minister, the Mayor and the Municipal authorities, the Director-General highlighted the importance of establishing a comprehensive Management Plan for the protection of the site and preserving the universal value of the historic centre of Berat for the future generations.
“In recognition of his contribution towards the promotion and protection of the cultural and historic values of the city of Berat”, the Director-General was made an honorary citizen of the city. During his stay in Berat, the Director-General was given a guided tour of the city’s historic centre.
Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 106-2009 - Publication Date: 05-06-2009