Irina Bokova launches initiative to develop regional cultural networks in South-East Europe
On 2 September 2011, together with the President of the Republic of Serbia, Mr Boris Tadic, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova opened the 9th Regional Summit of Heads of State of South-East Europe, held in Belgrade on the theme of "Contemporary Art and Reconciliation in South East Europe".
In her opening address, Irina Bokova emphasized that “the people of South East Europe have demonstrated that dialogue can help people overcome differences and reconcile after conflicts” and highlighted the important role played by art and memory in the process of reconciliation and everyday peace. The Director-General also launched a new initiative to build networks among professionals, civil society and politicians, "Culture: a Bridge to Development", the principles of which were endorsed at the Belgrade Conference last June by the Ministers of Culture of South Eastern Europe. The initiative will seek to unite the creative artistic forces of the region as distinct drivers of development.
The following Heads of State participated in the Summit: Boris Tadic, President of the Republic of Serbia; Bamir Topi, President of the Republic of Albania; Bakir Izetbegovic, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovinia; Georgi Parvanov, President of the Republic of Bulgaria; Ivo Josipovic, President of the Republic of Croatia; Gjorge Ivanov, President of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; Filip Vujanovic, President of Montenegro. Also present were: Ms Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, as well as Ms Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Director-General of Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport of the Council of Europe.
“These encounters contribute significantly to strengthening regional cooperation and mutual respect through culture” said the Director-General, who recalled UNESCO’s fundamental role in the establishment of this yearly Summit.