Welcoming speech by the Chairperson of the UNESCO Executive Board Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO Eleonora MITROFANOVA at the inauguration of the Day of the Slavic cultures (31 May 2011, 12.00) Dear Ms Director-General, Dear Ambassadors of the Slavic countries, Dear President of the Forum of the Slavic cultures, Dear Ambassadors, Ladies and gentlemen, Today at our international Organization we are celebrating for the second time such an important international and cultural event – the Day of the Slavic cultures. Our peoples are united not only by geographical proximity but also by the community of interpenetrative cultures and art and by closeness of language roots. In distant 9th century Equal to the apostles Saints Cyril and Methodius translated to a new and yet unknown language the Saint Gospel for the peoples who lived in Eastern Europe. Their instructive mission gave a strong impulse to the Slavic peoples in development of their own culture, art, history, policy, language etc. “In the Beginning Was the Word…” – these are the first words of the Holly Bible. This particular word became a new alphabet for our countries – Cyrillic alphabet. Centuries have passed, political map of the world has greatly changed but “the Word” granted by Cyril and Methodius is alive up till now. And today you will have an opportunity to see here the Icon of the Saints kindly placed at our disposal by the Permanent Delegation of Bulgaria to UNESCO. I would like to say that the history of the celebration of the Day of the Slavic culture and written language is centuries-old. But here at UNESCO this international Feast is young. International organization the Forum of the Slavic Cultures which includes 11 countries is organizing this event for the second time. And we are very grateful to President of the Forum (FSC) Ms Andrea Rihter for her active participation. Owing to the efforts of the Forum and the Delegations of the Slavic states to UNESCO it has become possible to present this project which consists of two components – photo exposition dedicated to the World heritage sites of the Slavic countries and Art-Exhibition “Slavs. Legends and Tales” (from the museum funds, first of all from the Museum Association “Moscow Museums”). Besides, the Exhibition of the National Slavic Costumes is a special present for this feast. I would also like to say that on the 24th of May a presentation of the Forum of the Slavic Cultures with the participation of the Osipov National Academic Orchestra of popular instruments and the soloists of many Member States took place at UN Headquarters in New-York with the support of the Russian Federation. This is a good example of our mutual efforts in promotion of the traditions of the Slavic countries in all their diversity and beauty to the international areas, the example that undoubtedly should be supported and developed. In conclusion I would like to thank those who took part in the preparation of our common holiday of the Slavic cultures and to wish to this exhibition a great success among its visitors. I thank you for your attention.