16.02.2011 - ODG

Director-General promotes UNESCO’s priorities in Brussels

© The Council of the European Union - UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova meets European Council President Herman Van Rompuy on 16 February 2011 in Brussels

On 16 February 2011, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova inaugurated the Organization’s liaison office to the European Union (EU) and its subsidiary bodies in Brussels, Belgium, in order to reinforce UNESCO’s presence and interaction with this major partner. Also that day, she took part in a number of other significant meetings and events.

In her bilateral meeting with the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, Irina Bokova underlined areas where UNESCO and the EU can build strong partnerships. The discussion focused on the issues of multiculturalism, cultural diversity, and gender equality, and identified common areas of action and potential for strengthened cooperation between the two Organizations.  “I strongly encourage a close collaboration between the EU and UNESCO”, underscored President Van Rompuy.

Irina Bokova participated in the Council Working Group for the United Nations (CONUN) in Brussels. This was the first time a UNESCO Director-General intervened before this Working Group. She delivered an address calling for a strategic partnership between UNESCO and the European Union, building on the common ground shared by the two Organizations.

“UNESCO and the European Union cooperate already in many areas. The challenge now is for us to become strategic partners – to seek opportunities to articulate joint strategies in areas of mutual interest and to join forces where we can do more together. We can do more also to make our cooperation more visible in terms of the real dividends it provides,” she stated.

Irina Bokova and Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Development, discussed deepening cooperation on primary education and Africa, as the beginning of strengthened cooperation between the EU and UNESCO.  Their talks centred on the importance of education and culture for economic growth, and touched also on culture and development, poverty eradication, teacher training, girls education, and education for all.

The Director-General also took part in the Crans Montana Forum on Africa & the Arab World, where she chaired a special session entitled “Women in Public Affairs Management in the South-south Cooperation”.  This session was co-organized by UNESCO and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) in the framework of the 5th Annual Meeting of First Ladies on Enhancing Gender Equality.  Addressing the high level audience, Irina Bokova emphasized that gender equality is one the most powerful accelerators for achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. “It is a force for reaching the objectives of Education for All, and for building healthy families and stronger societies. It is a key channel for dialogue and peace in situations of conflict and after disasters.”

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