31.05.2012 - ODG

Irina Bokova: Dialogue is a lifeline for understanding and respect

© UNESCO/B.Tukhtabayev - UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, First Deputy Prime Minister of Libya Mr Mustafa Abushagur and Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber, Founder and Chairman of MBI Al Jaber Foundation, at the International Conference “Euro-Arab Dialogue: contribution to a new humanism”, Vienna May 2012

On 31 May, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova was in Vienna to take part in the International Conference of National Commissions for UNESCO entitled “Euro-Arab Dialogue: contribution to a new humanism”.

The Director-General opened the Conference, together with Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber, Founder and Chairman of MBI Al Jaber Foundation, Mr Mustafa Abushagur, First Deputy Prime Minister of Libya, and Mr Sebastian Kurz, State Secretary in the Ministry of Interior of Austria. Representatives of more than 40 National Commissions as well as several international organizations, such as ISESCO, ALECSO, and Anna Lindh Foundation took part in the work of Conference.

In her opening remarks, the Director-General highlighted the importance of the Euro-Arab dialogue, which was launched in 2001 at the initiative of the Tunisian and German National Commissions for UNESCO, to promote the principles of learning to live together in today’s challenging world.

“Dialogue is a lifeline for understanding and respect. It lays the foundation for cooperation and joint action,” said the Director-General. “It is not enough to connect. We must share solutions, experiences and dreams, as a single community bound together by human rights and fundamental freedom”.

On the margins of the conference, the Director-General held a bilateral meeting with Mr Mustafa Abushagur. She reiterated UNESCO’s firm commitment to capacity building and development of democratic institutions in Libya through education, the sciences, culture and communication. The First Prime Minister assured his government’s full support to the UNESCO Project Office, to be opened in Tripoli soon.

While in Vienna, the Director-General also held bilateral meetings with Mr. Michael Spindelegger, Vice Chancellor of Austria and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, and Mr. Josef Ostermayer, State Secretary for Media. Their discussions focused on challenges in promoting press freedom, intercultural dialogue, education for all and sustainable development, as well as UNESCO’s action in these areas, especially in countries of the Arab region. The Director-General urged Austria to play a leading role in the Rio+20 Summit and to help promote the role of sciences and culture in sustainable development.


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