22.11.2010 - ODG

"When everything else has been lost, culture is what people can rely on" states Irina Bokova in Italy

© UNESCO/Matthieu Guevel - UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova receiving the Minerva Prize for her contribution to peace and solidarity, with Mr Letta and Ms Mammoliti, on 22 November 2010, during her first official visit to Italy

On her first official visit to Italy from 21 to 23 November 2010, the Director-General met the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Franco Frattini, with whom she highlighted the importance of cultural heritage and her desire to strengthen cooperation between UNESCO and Italy -- “one of its most important contributors, both in terms of funding and ideas,” Irina Bokova stated.

The Director-General and President Napolitano agreed that culture must not be seen as a cost and expense, but as a source of investment for development.
On the first day of her visit, Irina Bokova was awarded the Minerva Prize, highly recognized in Italy and connected to a forum called “Il Club delle Donne”. The prize acknowledges women's achievements in a variety of categories such as leadership in government, social engagement and European policy. Irina Bokova was given the prize for her contribution to peace and solidarity. Upon reception she delivered a speech on culture and development.

The Director General also received a commemorative medal in memory of Vittorio Veronese, former Director-General of UNESCO whose 100th birth anniversary is celebrated this year, and who made the appeal for international cooperation in order to save the temples of Egypt in 1960.  “Vittorio Veronese left us the responsibility to be bold, to continue to act collectively and deliver together on global issues,” Irina Bokova emphasized.
Italy is one of UNESCO's major partners, especially in the field of world heritage, both tangible and intangible. Italy hosts three major UNESCO affiliated institutions: the Regional Bureau for science and culture in Europe (Venice), the World Water Assessment Programme (Perugia), and the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (Trieste).

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