Slovakia reiterates its support to UNESCO
Director General Irina Bokova was assured of Slovakia’s full support to UNESCO by all high-level officials whom she met during her two-day official visit to the country on 1-2 June 2012. The visit took place after the recent change of the Slovak government, and the Director-General had the opportunity to inform new cabinet members of UNESCO’s priorities and to encourage them to deepen Slovakia’s cooperation with the Organization.
“Slovakia appreciates your hard work in reforming UNESCO in the present context, when multilateralism is experiencing a particularly challenging period. We notice positive changes in the Organization since your election and we are committed to continue supporting these endeavors”, said Ivan Gasparovic, President of the Slovak Republic, during their bilateral meeting.
The Director-General informed the President of the actions she has taken to address the current financial constraints at UNESCO. Speaking about the current objectives and programmatic priorities of the Organization, she called for Slovakia’s leadership at the Rio+20 conference, to promote the role of education, the sciences and culture in sustainable development.
The reform and priorities of the United Nations, UNESCO’s action in regional contexts, especially South-East Europe and the Arab region, were at the heart of the Director-General’s discussion with Miroslav Lajcak, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Irina Bokova highlighted the priority given by UNESCO to strengthening its strategic cooperation with the European Union. The Minister encouraged this development and pledged Slovakia’ support. He also announced that Slovakia will make a voluntary contribution in the amount of US$ 10,000 to the Fund of the Convention for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflicts. The Director-General paid tribute Slovakia’s efforts to promote regional cooperation and thanked Slovakia for hosting the Regional Consultation of Member States and National Commissions in Europe and North America on the preparation of the drafts 37 C/4 and 37 C/5 next September in Bratislava.
The Director-General’s meeting with Dusan Caplovic, Minister of Education, Science, Research and Sport, focused on the reforms underway in Slovakia’s educational system. They exchanged views on the ways and means to provide quality education, multilingualism, and teaching of sciences in schools. It was acknowledged that the education of Roma children was a major challenge. The Director-General suggested applying a holistic approach in addressing this issue, which was also relevant to many other countries in the region with Roma population. She assured UNESCO’s readiness to assist, especially by bringing international experience and promoting the sharing of best practices.
State Secretary for Culture Ivan Secik announced that the new government attached special attention to integrating culture in development policy. He said that the digitalization of archived cultural materials was a priority, as it will help preserve the heritage and provide larger access to them through Internet. The Director-General informed about UNESCO’s normative action in area of culture. She also explained operational activities in promoting cultural industries, cultural diversity and the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural objects. She encouraged Slovakia to create trans-boundary World Heritage sites with neighboring countries.
During her meeting with members of the Slovak National Commission for UNESCO, chaired by Professor Ludovit Molnar, the Director-General paid tribute to the active role of the Commission in promoting UNESCO’s ideals and objectives in the country. Members of the Commission informed Ms Bokova of their diverse activities in education, natural and social sciences, culture, and youth.
The Director-General visited the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, where she met the Rector, Mr Robert Rehhammer. She also visited the Slovak Academy of Sciences, where she was received by the President of the Academy Professor, Dr. Jaromir Pastorek. On both occasions, Ms Bokova engaged with the hosts in frank discussions on a wide range of issues relating to the role of sciences and research in development and the means of strengthening international scientific cooperation. Both institutions granted the Director-General with their honorary distinctions.