09.11.2009 -

Too many walls remain, says UNESCO Director-General elect on Berlin Wall anniversary

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, UNESCO Director-General-elect, Irina Bokova, warned world leaders against complacency in the quest for freedom, human rights and cultural diversity, stressing that the battles for these universal values were not yet won.

“The fall of the Berlin wall, twenty years ago, was an event of immense historical importance for world peace and the advance of democracy,” Ms Bokova said. “It was the start of a new era, giving rise to hopes, not just in Eastern Europe but around the world, for a better life. A page had been turned.”

However, the undeniable progress that has been made should not be taken for granted, the Director-General warned.

“Today we live in a globalized world, but too many walls remain,” she said. “UNESCO’s task is to break through these walls, wherever they may be and whatever form they may take."

“Although globalization may be a liberating force, it also carries the risk of creating a more uniform world, eroding the incredible diversity that is the real source of human creativity, economic and social development, and opening the way for new forms of repression, exclusion and poverty.”

The Director-General-elect, who takes office on 15 November, stressed that continued dialogue and exchange – between political and social leaders, different cultural and religious groups – was essential for overcoming these threats and building on the positive changes that have come about since the fall of the Berlin Wall two decades ago.

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