Further to their recent meeting at the 7th Regional Summit of Heads of State in Montenegro last June (see Flash Info N°107-2009**), the Director-General and the President continued their discussions on cooperation among the countries of South-East Europe in UNESCO’s fields of competence.
The President explained to Mr Matsuura that as an EU member state, Slovenia paid increasing attention to promoting regional cooperation in South-East Europe. An area of particular importance in this regard was inter-cultural dialogue. When holding the EU presidency, Slovenia had launched a number of initiatives in this area, on which the EU could hopefully benefit from UNESCO’s experience.
Mr Matsuura welcomed Slovenia’s interest in, and support for, the regional cooperation that UNESCO had launched in 2002 by holding the first ministerial conference in Paris, followed by the first Head of State level Summit organized at the initiative of President Trajkovski in Ohrid (FYROM) in 2003. The Summits were now complemented by annual meetings of the region’s Ministers of Culture.
Mr Matsuura expressed his hope that the regional cooperation among the countries of South-East Europe - that had hitherto focussed on cultural heritage and inter-cultural dialogue - would be expanded to the other fields of competence of UNESCO, notably education.
The President highlighted the importance of regional cooperation in the field of education, in particular in the light of the fact that Europe was historically a single intellectual space. He specifically mentioned quality education, ecological awareness and problem-solving capacities as important elements in the school curricula at the time of the present crises.
Outlining UNESCO’s inclusive and holistic approach to education, Mr Matsuura felt that UNESCO’s major force in the field resided in its inter-disciplinarity.
In his address at the opening ceremony of the World Conference later the same evening, the President touched upon many of the aspects highlighted during his talks with the Director-General, notably the importance of academic freedom, quality and inter-cultural dialogue. President Türk called for institutions of higher education to be fully engaged in achieving the Millennium Development Goals which he called “the most ambitious objectives of our time”.
Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 131-2009 - Publication Date: 07-07-2009