Signing of the Headquarters Agreement between UNESCO and the Kingdom of Belgium
On the occasion of the signing of the Headquarters Agreement between UNESCO and the Kingdom of Belgium concerning the establishment of the UNESCO Liaison Office in Brussels on 3 July 2013, the Director-General recalled the importance of strengthening UNESCO’s presence and its strategic partnership with the European institutions.
“My decision to announce to the Executive Board of UNESCO the establishment of a UNESCO Liaison Office with the European Institutions on 1 October 2010 was both self-evident and an absolute necessity, and I took great pleasure in opening the Office in February 2011,” Irina Bokova declared at the moment of the signing with H.E Ms Francine Chainaye, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of the Kingdom of Belgium to UNESCO, in the presence of H.E. Ms Maria Francesca Spatolisano, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of the European Union to UNESCO.
The Director-General went on to highlight the fact that the strategic partnership with the European Union, renewed in October 2012, had seen the exponential growth of cooperation between the two institutions -- “thanks, especially, to the excellent coordination between the Liaison Office in Brussels, the UNESCO programme sectors, and the decentralized offices in the different beneficiary countries.”
This cooperation has allowed UNESCO to develop many projects, amounting to eight million euros since 2012, and covering a wide range of issues, from technical and vocational education to natural disaster prevention and tsunami warnings, including the conservation of the cultural heritage, freedom of expression and the development of pluralistic and independent media, culture for development, and the advancement of women’s rights in Africa, Asia and the Arab world.
“The UNESCO Office in Brussels has allowed us to work more closely with the European institutions and to strengthen our action on the values we share, such as education for all, freedom of expression and human rights,” said Irina Bokova. “No doubt, 2013 will be a turning point in cooperation between the European Union and UNESCO,” she added, stating that agreements under negotiation involved up to 29 million euros.
The Director-General emphasized the essential role played by Belgium, the host country of the UNESCO Liaison Office in Brussels, and thanked especially the Flemish Government in the presence of Mr Dries Willems, Deputy Representative of the Flemish Government in France, for the secondment of Flemish staff to the UNESCO Office in Brussels.
Ms Francine Chainaye, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of the Kingdom of Belgium to UNSECO, welcomed the presence of representatives of the Flemish and Walloon Governments, highlighting Belgium’s intention to maintain its voluntary financial contribution to UNESCO, which she considered to be “a visible sign of the wish to consolidate efforts” led by the UNESCO Director-General with regard to “purusing shared objectives and principles of cooperation.” Ms Chainaye then said that UNESCO’s presence in Brussels completed “this great family that makes up the largest diplomatic community in the world.”
Ms Maria Francesca Spatolisano, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of the European Union to UNESCO, welcomed UNESCO’s presence in Brussels as a sign of a “stronger and more fruitful cooperation than ever before, in order to support efforts aiming to increase the Organization’s efficiency.”
H.E Ambassador Peter Martin, President of the Interministerial Committee for Host Nation Policy, along with Mr Dries Willems, Deputy Representative of the Flemish Government in France, Mr Yves De Greef, Counsellor to the Delegation of the French Community of Belgium and of the Walloon Region to France, and Mr Geert de Buck, expert to the Interministerial Committee for Host Nation Policy, also attended the signing ceremony.
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