01.09.2019 - UNESCO Office in Tashkent

UNESCO and Uzbekistan strengthen cooperation

©Behzod Abdujabbarov

On 26 August 2019, under the auspices of UNESCO, an international conference entitled “The Preservation of Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage: Topical Issues and Strategies to Resolve them” was held in Samarkand, at the Symposiums Palace.

The conference was organized by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Ministry for Development of Information Technologies and Communications of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Tourism Development, the National Commission for UNESCO, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the UNESCO, the National Association of Electronic Media of Uzbekistan (NAEMM), the Academy of Sciences of Republic of Uzbekistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Uzbekistan, and the Center of Islamic Civilization under the Cabinet of Ministers of Republic of Uzbekistan.

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, who was on an official visit to Uzbekistan for the first time, took part in the opening of the conference. Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov and Deputy Minister of Culture Kamola Akilova also attended the opening of the conference.

 "Samarkand is much more than only aesthetical shock, it is much more than about beauty. It is about poetry, Sufi philosophy; it is about sciences, education as advocated by Ulugbek. It is about traditions, exchanges, and dances, intellectual dialogues; it is universal heritage that we received from the depth of history," said Ms. Azoulay.

Ms. Azoulay described the preservation of cultural heritage in cities as a great challenge. She also noted the need to unite common efforts in this direction.

According to Ms. Akilova, cultural heritage is an important element, a resource for the development of the country's potential in the future. "Uzbekistan and UNESCO have a lot in common <...> many of our sites have been included in the World Heritage List and a Representative List. We should also think about our future interactions. Therefore, this conference is taking place in Uzbekistan, and we think that its results will be important not only for Uzbekistan, but also for the entire Asia-Pacific region," said the Deputy Minister of Culture.

About 250 guests from 50 countries attended the international conference. Among the participants of the conference were the leadership of the World Heritage Centre and members of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, experts of the International Council on Monuments and Sites Preservation (ICOMOS), scientists, restorers and researchers of historical and cultural heritage of Central Asia and other specialists in this field.

The conference included a plenary session devoted to the problems of urban heritage in the post-Soviet era, and breakout sessions on three thematic areas.

The first section was devoted to cultural heritage and urban planning. Experts discussed issues related to infrastructure works in historic cities, preservation of authenticity of zieratgokh architecture (memorial-cult complexes of Uzbekistan), the process of urbanization, as well as adaptation of urban planning tools for World Heritage sites.

The second section addressed the topic of legal and regulatory frameworks for World Heritage protection. In the course of the session, experts discussed the positive and negative aspects of the status of the World Heritage site on the example of Russian sites, the development of an electronic register of cultural property of Uzbekistan located abroad, the principles of legal mechanisms for the preservation and transfer of works to the future, as well as the specifics of training managers on the conservation of cultural heritage.

The third section was devoted to the preservation of cultural heritage in education using ICTs. Scientists, experts from Japan, India, Korea, Great Britain, Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, and Uzbekistan shared their experience of using information technologies for preservation, monitoring and promotion of cultural heritage.

During her visit, Ms. Azoulay met with President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev. During the conversation, topical issues of further development of cooperation and implementation of agreements, including those reached at the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee held in Baku, were discussed. In addition, the participants of the meeting considered the prospects of cooperation in culture, education and science, gender policy, as well as ecology, including overcoming the consequences of the Aral Sea catastrophe.

On August 26, the opening of the XII International Music Festival "Sharq Taronalari" took place on Registan Square, in which this year 340 artists from 75 countries took part.

In her speech, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay noted that music is a language of intercultural dialogue, the development of which is one of UNESCO's objectives.

"Music – is a universal language spoken by all of us. It is living; it is breathing culture and it unites us all and brings us together. It is based on this conviction that UNESCO is multiplying initiatives to protect music whether by inventorying its forms, digitalizing its expression, mapping it or defending its learning," said the Director General.

It should be noted that the "Sharq taronalari" festival, which means "Melodies of the East", has been held every two years on Registan Square in Samarkand since 1997.

On the next day, August 27, the Head of UNESCO, accompanied by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan A. Abdukhakimov and the Governor of Bukhara region U. Barnoev, visited Bukhara, where she was acquainted with architectural ensembles of Lyabi-Khauz, Poi-Kalyan, the ancient fortress Ark in Bukhara and the Samanid mausoleum. She also visited the 400-year-old Jewish synagogue.

It is worth noting that during the visit of President Mirziyoyev to UNESCO on 8 October 2018, UNESCO and Uzbekistan adopted and signed the Programme Plan of Joint Actions for 2018-2021, which was the first such agreement in 20 years.

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