“Bolgar is a symbol of inter-cultural dialogue” says the Director-General
On 20 August 2014, Ms Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, took part in the celebrations held in Kazan on the occasion of the inscription of the Bolgar Historical and Archeological Complex on the World heritage List. Presenting the World Heritage certificate to H.E. Mr Rustam Minnikhanov, President of the Republic of Tatarstan (the Russian Federation), Ms Bokova underlined the special role of culture and heritage to foster social cohesion and mutual understanding in multicultural and diverse societies. "This is especially important in the context of the celebration of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures", she said.
“As a sacred place of pilgrimage and worship for Muslims in the Russian Federation and abroad, Bolgar is a bridge of tolerance and mutual acceptance between different religious communities.” said the Director General. “Dialogue among cultures and religions has never been so important – and too often we are witness of hatred speeches full of stereotypes and of religion taken hostage of ignorance or conflict. This is simply not acceptable and our heritage is one way to fight for tolerance.” she emphasized.
Paying tribute to significant efforts deployed by the local and federal authorities to safeguard and promote the cultural heritage and traditions of Tatarstan, the Director-General particularly commended the activities of the "Foundation for the Revival of Historical and Cultural Monuments of the Republic of Tatarstan", ably led by Mr Mintimer Shaimiev. She said that Bolgar can become a new platform to launch innovative projects in the field of inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue as well as in the areas of management of monuments of religious interest.
Ms Bokova highlighted the long-standing cooperation between UNESCO and Tatarstan and thanked the Russian Permanent Delegation to UNESCO and the Russian Commission for UNESCO to promote this fruitful partnership. Recalling that the Russian Federation is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its membership in the Organization this year, she expressed her appreciation to the country's support to UNESCO and its activities.
The President of Tatarstan emphasized the historical significance of the recognition of Bolgar as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. He said that it will give a powerful thrust to the promotion of Tatar cultural heritage and traditions within and beyond the country. He expressed his appreciations for UNESCO's attention and assistance, emphasizing that Tatarstan will fully respect its obligations in the protection of the new World Heritage Property of Bolgar.
During her stay in Tatarstan, the Director-General visited the World Heritage sites of Bolgar and Kazan Kremlin as well as the monuments on the island of Sviyazhsk.
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