The President of Bulgaria at UNESCO opens the Leaders’ Forum of the 38th session of the General Conference

His Excellency President Rosen Plevneliev, addressed this morning the Leaders’ Forum, which brings together Heads of State and Government, ministers, ambassadors as well as high level participants from around the world, within the context of the 38th session of the General Conference of UNESCO.

The Leaders' Forum was organised in the framework of the 70th anniversary of UNESCO, and was dedicated to the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015.

"Notwithstanding the tragic events of last Friday, we are gathered here today, as nations under the banner of UNESCO, on our 70th anniversary, to proclaim to the world that the human spirit shall never be suppressed. That humanity's yearning for peace, tolerance and mutual coexistence must be resurrected," said Stanley Mutumba Simataa, President of the 38th Session of the General Conference in his opening remarks to the Member States.

Opening the Forum, Director-General Irina Bokova referred to the tragic and horrific events, which shook Paris and the entire world. “This is an attack against the humanity we share. We can never accept it. We can never give in. We must stand together, with France, with all women and men, with all societies."

Recalling UNESCO’s Constitution, adopted seven decades ago, which states that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace must be constructed,” the Director-General declared that “this has never been so urgent, so relevant.”

In his speech, President Plevneliev stressed that "the ideology of terrorism cannot be defeated by weapons. It could be defeated by better ideas, education and tolerant societies.” 

“Only by uniting against this global menace, we will win this fight,” he added. The President expressed his appreciation for the work implemented by UNESCO over the past 70 years and said, “UNESCO has become the leading international forum dedicated to the protection of mankind’s spiritual and cultural heritage.” 

He emphasized that the Organization has “all the right tools, promoting cultural and religious dialogue, preventing youth radicalization through education for all, sharing scientific knowledge for the better future of mankind.”

Referring to the roots of the terrorism, the President stressed that “It is time to invest more efforts and resources in education and cultural diversity in order to ensure a just and sustainable future of everyone.”