Cultural heritage protection, the keynote of Irina Bokova’s official visit to Bulgaria
For the first time since taking office as Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova has paid an official visit to Bulgaria, her native country. She held talks with Mr Georgi Parvanov, President of Bulgaria, Ms Tsetska Tsacheva, Speaker of the National Assembly and Mr Nikolay Mladenov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, in Sofia, on 28 October 2010. She was awarded a doctorate honoris causa by the St Cyril and St Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo on 29 October 2010.
During her discussions with the Bulgarian authorities, the Director-General of UNESCO mentioned the crucial role of education for development. In particular, she stressed the importance of the quality of education to the future of young people. “When governments invest in education, they invest in their future. Such a contribution is always profitable.”
Irina Bokova also commended the signing, on 25 October 2010, of an agreement between the Bulgarian Government and UNESCO on the establishment of a Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage: “The first of its kind in Europe, this Centre is expected to play a unifying role not only in South-East Europe, but also in the Black Sea region. In future, it may broaden its activities and, for example, train young experts primarily from African countries in national inventorying of intangible heritage.”
The Director-General reiterated the need for States to preserve their national cultural heritage and to adopt a more responsible policy on their sites that are included in the World Heritage List. “Better coordination between governments and local authorities would make such preservation more effective,” she considered.
Furthermore, she called for closer relations between UNESCO and national parliaments and civil society, stressing in particular the key role of National Commissions for UNESCO: “They are our Organization’s natural partners of and I appeal to governments to enhance their potential,” she declared.
On the eve of the national day of the leaders of the Bulgarian national revival, celebrated each year on 1 November in tribute to great Bulgarian men of letters, intellectuals, teachers and journalists, the Director-General opened at the National Assembly, the “Hristo Danov – Bulgarian man of letters and publisher” exhibition, in the presence of a large number of parliamentarians.