The Director-General pays an official visit to Poland

The Director-General pays an official visit to Poland
  • © UNESCO/K. Pikkat

From 4 to 6 June 2007, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, paid his third visit to Poland. Ambassador Wodzynska-Walika, Permanent Delegate of Poland to UNESCO, accompanied Mr Matsuura throughout his visit.

On 4 June, the Director-General inaugurated an exhibition marking the 35th anniversary of the joint Polish-German Commission on School Textbooks in History and Geography in Wroclaw. The exhibition had been organized by the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research and the Willy Brandt Centre for German and European Studies at the University of Wroclaw. In his opening remarks, the Director-General highlighted the pioneering work of the Polish and German National Commissions for UNESCO, who in 1972 had formally agreed to establish the joint Commission to promote dialogue on the teaching of history and geography with a view to transforming textbooks into instruments of peace and reconciliation. The Commission prepared several practical manuals with a view to overcoming prejudice and stereotype. Its determination, professionalism and creativity won the Commission international acclaim: it was awarded the UNESCO Peace Prize in 1985 and the Polish-German Prize for special contribution to Polish-German relations in 2002.

Later the same day, Mr Matsuura, Mr Kazimierz Michal Ujadowski, Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage, and Mr Rafal Dutkiewicz, Mayor of Wroclaw, participated in a ceremony to unveil a World Heritage plate in front of the Wroclaw Centennial Hall, which had been inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2006.

On 5 June, the Director-General travelled to Krakow, another Polish site on the World Heritage List, to participate, together with Mr Jacek Majchrowski, Mayor of Krakow, in the festivities organized on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of the granting of Magdeburg rights to the city of Krakow. During his stay in Krakow, Mr Matsuura visited the Royal Castle at the Wawel Hill and the International Cultural Centre directed by Professor Jacek Purchla.

In Warsaw, Mr Matsuura had bilateral meetings with Mr Ludwik Dorn, Speaker of the Polish Parliament; Ms Anna Fotyga, Minister for Foreign Affairs; Mr Stefan Jurga, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education; Mrs Elzbieta Jakubiak, Secretary of State, Head of the Cabinet of the President of Poland; as well as members of the Polish National Commission for UNESCO, including its President, Mr Jerzy Kloczowski.

Expressing their appreciation at the present state of Poland’s cooperation with UNESCO, the authorities and the Director-General discussed ways of strengthening this cooperation further. The government representatives underscored the importance of changing the name of the World Heritage-listed Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp in order to reflect the historical facts about this Nazi camp set up in Poland and avoid any possible misinterpretation by future generations.

Welcoming the imminent ratification by Poland of the 2003 and 2005 Conventions, the Director-General encouraged the authorities to also ratify the Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention of 2001. Mr Matsuura paid tribute to Poland’s increasing role in development and underscored the importance of trans-border cooperation with its neighbouring countries.

During his stay in Warsaw, the Director-General visited the Historical Museum to learn more about the history of the city of Warsaw.

  • Auteur(s):La Porte-parole
  • Source:Flash Info N° 079-2007
  • 12-06-2007
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