21 October 2014

STATEMENT delivered by H.E. Mrs Eleonora Mitrofanova, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO, during the Plenary Debate of the 195th session of the Executive Board (October 21, 2014, Paris)

Mr. Chairperson of the Executive Board,

Mr. Chairperson of the General Conference,

Madam Director General,

Ladies and gentlemen,


It is absolutely evident that today the world is going through a very difficult period of instability in the spheres of politics, economy and international relations. We witness the visible manifestations of this instability – stagnation and economic recession, political conflicts which turn into destructive armed conflict, large-scale natural and technological disasters.

In these circumstances of formation of a new multicentric system of the world order we need an objective, a non-biased analysis of the dynamic process in the world political, cultural and humanitarian spheres.

We are deeply concerned about the situation in the Middle East and Africa, where innocent people suffer and die, where they are forced to leave their ancestral lands. The crisis in Ukraine which has turned from a political conflict of certain social groups to a fratricidal conflict now became a challenge to the international community.

In this situation the role of multilateral diplomacy is more important than ever before.

Russia is not only ready but also is seeking a serious multilateral dialogue with all interested parties.

Dear colleagues,

The agenda of this session of the Executive Board is very intense both in terms of the number of the issues and their importance. We are expecting detailed and I am sure productive discussions, so I would like to give a few comments without going into details.

I agree with positive assessment of the work of the Director General and the Secretariat including the overcoming of serious financial difficulties which our Organization encountered due to the well-known circumstances having lost almost twenty percent of the expected contributions. At the same time we regret to acknowledge that there is a little prospect of an improvement of the financial situation of the Organization in the near future. The main creditors’ liability is growing and they don’t seem to make any encouraging signals. We consider the proposal of the Director General to establish the next budget of the Organization on the principle of “zero nominal growth plus” appropriate.

UNESCO has always been a leading intellectual forum defining the lines of policies of the international cooperation and encouragement of the Members States in the fields of science, education and culture. Over the past few years we have been giving an increasing attention to technical issues, to micromanagement, intervening into duties of the Director General and the Secretariat. We should avoid this way of running the work of the Executive Board.

Many issues discussed at the Executive Board require careful preliminary elaboration and harmonization. In this regard the establishment of the preparatory groups is very reasonable. However there is a clear trend that the sessions of the preparatory group of the Executive Board with no full composition of the Member States of the Board are replacing discussions and decisions on the session itself.

No doubtthat another important area of application of our efforts is culture. The Culture has become an important part of human development in the UN grace to UNESCO.

We are confident that the theme “Culture and development” will be embodied in the post-2015 development agenda.

We consider it timely and useful UNESCO’s referring to the problem of preservation from destruction of cultural and historical property including those in Iraq. We welcome the efforts made in this regard by the relevant Member States. At the same time we think that the measures on this very sensitive issue must be very carefully considered, and must be strictly consistent with the mandate of UNESCO and must not go beyond the bounds where the politics begin.

We are convinced that UNESCO should pay some greater attention to the problems of countries in conflict and post-conflict situation. We have to devote greater efforts to education, restoring of cultural heritage, and combatting religious and other forms of intolerance.

As for Crimea. I will not respond to the explicit untruth that we heard in the statement of the Ukrainian delegation. We have circulated a detailed report on the situation in Crimea in the fields of UNESCO competence among the Member States.

I would like to stress that despite this difficult period of Russian and Ukrainian relations we are committed to working with Ukrainian partners together with UNESCO on an equal footing.

Dear colleagues,

UNESCO was established on the ashes of the Second World and is approaching its 70th anniversary. From our point of view it is an opportunity to draw the lessons from those events in order to avoid repetition of the Holocaust, Khatyn, Babiy Yar. 50 million people who died in that conflict appeal for our memory.

Thank you very much.