24.05.2011 - ODG

Youth heritage education is the way to prepare for the future

© Office of the President of Croatia/Tamara Pollak -UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova meeting with Mr Ivo Josipović, President of the Republic of Croatia, during her official visit to the country. Zagreb, 21 May 2011

On 22 May 2011, during her first official visit to Croatia (21 and 22 May), UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova opened the first South East Europe World Heritage Youth Forum in Poreč, entitled “Networking for a Better Common Future”. In her address to the Forum, the Director-General noted that UNESCO is working to support governments and societies in the region to safeguard and promote their rich cultural heritage and cultural expressions. She argued that “culture is dynamic.” In times of change and uncertainty, she stated “Heritage can be a building block for sustainable development, a vector for reconciliation and harmony and a catalyst for regional cooperation.”

Recalling UNESCO’s long-standing engagement to foster regional cooperation in South East Europe, Irina Bokova announced the launch of a Heritage and Dialogue initiative at the next Summit of Heads of State of the region, which will take place in Belgrade next September 2011. She explained that the Heritage and Dialogue initiative focuses on young people across the region. “It will encourage them to share their cultures and to deepen their common history by building new forms of dialogue to foster understanding and mutual respect. It will create innovative networks and platforms that span across the region – with the aim to imbue young people with the values of shared cultural heritage, in both its tangible and intangible forms.”

“I am convinced we can do more to tap into culture and heritage as bridges for dialogue and reconciliation in South East Europe,” she added.

While in Poreč, the Director-General visited the Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the city’s Historic Centre, a Cultural Heritage Site inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997.

The previous day in Zagreb, the Director-General held a meeting with Mr Ivo Josipović, President of the Republic of Croatia, where they discussed the fruitful cooperation between Croatia and UNESCO in the areas of World Heritage and Intangible Cultural Heritage. 

Irina Bokova highlighted the dynamic contribution by the Croatian Ministry of Culture in strengthening bilateral cooperation with UNESCO. She also paid tribute to the work of the Croatian National Commission for UNESCO as well as to the active role in regional cooperation played by the Zadar Centre for Underwater Cultural Heritage, a UNESCO Category II Institution.

Recalling his first meeting with Ms Bokova in June 2010, on the occasion of the 8th Summit of the Heads of State of South East European countries in Istanbul, President Josipović emphasized the significance of having the first UNESCO Director-General from the South East European region.  The President reiterated his country’s support to the Organization’s priorities.

Mr Josipović and Ms Bokova exchanged views on media governance and ethics, as well as the challenges of preserving cultural heritage in the context of urban development.  They spoke at length about the involvement of the private sector in heritage preservation as alternative solution when public spending in the cultural domain decreases.

In her talks with Mr Jasen Mesić, Croatia’s Minister of Culture, the Director-General underscored the importance of the first South East Europe World Heritage Youth Forum in Poreč to make use of culture as a factor in regional integration and development. The Minister underlined the significant underwater cultural heritage of the South East European region and the contribution of cultural tourism for economic development.

Also on 21 May, Irina Bokova met with the UN Resident Coordinator for Croatia, Ms Louisa Vinton. They exchanged views on the role of the UN country team in Croatia and UNDP’s cooperation with the UNESCO Venice Office as regards Croatia.

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