United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

The Director-General pays his ninth visit to the Russian Federation

From 20 to 23 July 2009, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, paid his ninth official visit to the Russian Federation.

Ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova, Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, accompanied the Director-General throughout his visit.

During his stay in Moscow, the Director-General met President Medvedev and Foreign Minister Lavrov; Kirill I, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia; Mr Luzhkov, Mayor of Moscow; Mr Denisov, First Deputy Foreign Minister; Mr Yakovenko, Deputy Foreign Minister; Ms Shvetsova, First Deputy Mayor of Moscow; UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors Zurab Tseretli, Ara Abramyan and Vitaly Ignatenko, as well as Mr Slutsky, President of the Russian Peace Foundation.

Looking back at his tenure as Director-General over the last nine and a half years during his discussions with the authorities, Mr Matsuura expressed his satisfaction at the strengthening of UNESCO’s bilateral relations with the Russian Federation, noting that the excellent channels of dialogue established with the highest level of government provided the bedrock for successful cooperation. In his meetings with senior officials, the Director-General praised the fact that UNESCO’s collaboration with the Russian Federation now covered the full spectrum of the Organization’s competences and had vast regional scope, extending from the city of Moscow to the remotest regions of the Russian Federation. President Medvedev paid tribute to Mr Matsuura in this regard and commended his achievements at the helm of the Organization.

The Director-General’s meeting with Kirill I, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, and other religious leaders in Svyato-Danilov Monastery on 22 July focused on the importance of considering the religious dimension in conflict prevention, as well as on how to enhance dialogue between religious communities and international organizations, in particular UNESCO. Mr Matsuura gave an overview of UNESCO’s past and planned future activities aimed at promoting inter-religious dialogue, including in the context of the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures in 2010. In a communiqué adopted at the end of the meeting, the religious leaders announced the establishment, in consultation with the Director-General, of a high-level consultative group of religious leaders in partnership with UNESCO.

Later the same day, the Director-General gave a speech on cultural diversity in a lecture series celebrating the 55th anniversary of the International Affairs Journal of the Russian Foreign Ministry. The Director-General welcomed the fact that, after long being consigned “to the soft side of international relations”, culture had found its “rightful place at the centre of international debates about the type of world we want to leave to future generations”.

Reviewing the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding they had signed in November 2007, the Director-General and Mayor Luzhkov expressed their satisfaction at seeing this agreement bear fruit. In this context, the Mayor informed Mr Matsuura of the preparations underway for the organization of a World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education in Moscow in September 2010. The Director-General solicited the city authorities’ cooperation in the organization of Philosophy Day in November 2010, for which a series of events had been scheduled in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Opening the 15th anniversary celebrations of the UNESCO Moscow Office, the Director-General expressed his appreciation to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the generous support provided to the Office since its establishment in 1994. Referring to a number of flagship projects implemented by the Office both in Russia as well as in its cluster countries, Mr Matsuura extended his very best wishes and heartfelt appreciation to the director and staff of the Moscow Office: present and past, international civil servants and local staff members.

One of the highlights of the Director-General’s visit to Moscow was the presentation of the second collection of his speeches in Russian. Entitled “Changing world, new challenges”, the volume covers the period 2005-2008 and was published at the initiative of Vitaly Ignatenko with the support of Zurab Tsreteli and Ara Abramyan. Describing how he views his speeches as an important means of communication, the Director-General expressed his satisfaction at the publication of this volume which he said “opened up the possibility of dialogue with some 300 million Russian-speaking people in over 80 countries”.

In recognition of his contribution to the development of sciences, culture and international relations, Mr Matsuura was awarded the title of Doctor Honoris Causa of the Russian State University for the Humanities.

During his stay in Moscow, the Director-General attended a press presentation of the programme of the Children’s and Youth Forum “Olympic Friendship” and visited the home museum of Zurab Tsreteli.

Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 144-2009 -  Publication Date: 27-07-2009

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