The Director-General participates in the Second Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions during his second official visit to Kazakhstan

From 10 to 13 September 2006, the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, paid his second official visit to the Republic of Kazakhstan and participated, together with Mr Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan, in the opening ceremony of the Second Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions held in the new pyramid-shaped Palace of Peace and Accord in Astana.

In his speech at the Congress, the Director-General expressed UNESCO’s support for the event “which resonates strongly with the Organization’s objectives and activities across the world, and in particular […] in Central Asia.” Referring to religious and cultural diversity as a basic human reality, Mr Matsuura highlighted the need for the international community to be reminded of this essential message in the current global context, and to promote dialogue as a means of transcending cultural and religious differences. “The world’s decision-makers need to work hand-in-hand with religious leaders to reaffirm their rejection of the fatalistic theory of “the clash of civilizations” and to redirect attention towards the values that constitute our shared humanity: justice, tolerance, and respect for the Other”.

The Director-General assured participants of UNESCO’s readiness to take the debates and recommendations of the Congress into consideration when developing its own programmes devoted to promoting dialogue. “The partnership of religious leaders is highly valued by the Organization, and this Congress furnishes an excellent opportunity to strengthen our cooperation still further”, concluded Mr Matsuura his remarks.

The importance of interreligious and intercultural dialogue was also discussed during Mr Matsuura’s bilateral talks with President Nazarbayev on 11 September. The Director-General pledged UNESCO’s support for the government’s efforts to promote cooperation in the field of education – in particular through the UNESCO/UNITWIN Chairs Programme, as well as in the fields of sustainable development and renewable energies, and the protection of cultural heritage. Mr Matsuura further underlined the need to promote regional cooperation in Central Asia and highlighted the role that the UNESCO Office in Almaty played in this regard.

The Director-General also met with: Mr Akhmetov, Prime Minister; Mr Tasmagambetov, Mayor of Almaty and Chairman of the Kazakhstan National Commission for UNESCO; Mr Tokaev, Minister for Foreign Affairs; Mrs Aitimova, Minister of Science and Education; Mr Yertysbayev, Minister of Culture and Information; Mrs Korzhova, Minister of Finance; Mrs Karagusova, Minister of Labour and Social Protection; and Mr Iskakov, Minister of the Environment. Following their bilateral meeting, the Director-General and Minister Tokaev signed an Aide Mémoire defining areas where cooperation between UNESCO and Kazakhstan could be further strengthened in the future.

Accompanied by Mr Tasmagambekov, Mr Iskakov and Mr Yessenbayev, Governor of the Akmola Region, the Director-General visited the Korgalzhyn Natural Reserve, which is part of the “Sary-Arka: Steppes and Lakes of North Kazakshtan” candidature file submitted for nomination to the World Heritage List.

In recognition of his contribution to the development of culture, the safeguarding of cultural diversity and the reinforcement of dialogue among civilizations, Mr Matsuura was awarded the distinction of Doctor Honoris Causa from the Lev Gumilev National Eurasia University in Astana.

  • Auteur(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash info n°137-2006
  • 14-09-2006
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