Irina Bokova addresses the Summit of Heads of States of South East Europe
The 10th UNESCO Summit of Heads of State of South East European countries, held in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 2 -3 June, closed with the unanimous adoption of the Declaration on Religious, Cultural and Historical Heritage as a Foundation for More Intensive Cooperation amongst States.
The Summit was co-organized by the Director-General and H.E. Mr. Bakir Izetbegovic, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Addressing Heads of States, Ministers of Culture and representatives from the European Commission and the Council of Europe, Ms Bokova said :
« I cannot think of a better place than Mostar to discuss the importance of heritage for cooperation between States and societies…Everywhere I go, I speak of Mostar as a place embodying the power of culture to build bridges between people ».
During the Summit, the importance of UNESCO’s role in the region was highlighted by all speakers as being vital for the pursuit of development and peace among the countries and their peoples.
In the Declaration, the leaders of the region committed themselves to « protect cultural heritage as an important foundation for fostering understanding and more intensive cooperation among our countries », to « improve national legislations » in this regard, and to « strengthen regional cooperation…by providing support to joint programmes and projects ».
The Declaration also expressed support for UNESCO’s new global initiative, Culture: A Bridge to Development, and the important regional project « Heritage and Dialogue ».
During the Summit, the Director-General held bilateral meetings with the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, H.E. Mr Bakir Ieztbegovic, the President of the Republic of Albania, H. E. Mr. Bamir Topi, the President of the Republic of Montenegro, H. E. Mr Filip Vujanovic, the President of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, H.E. Mr. Gjorge Ivanov, and the Serbian Minister of Culture, Media and Information Society, Mr Predag Markovic.
On 2 June, the Director-General also met with the Prime Minister of the Canton of Sarajevo, Mr Fikrit Music, and the Minister of Culture of the Canton of Sarajevo, Mr Ivica Saric. Ms Bokova paid a visit to the space of the Konjic biennale located in the unique nuclear bunker built between 1953 and 1979, now transformed into an art gallery, promoting, inter alia, tolerance and mutual understanding.
The 11th Summit will be hosted by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in 2013.