185th Session of the Executive Board
His Excellency Mr Sebastián Piñera
President of Chile
by H. E. Mrs Eleonora Valentinovna Mitrofanova
Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO
Chairperson of the Executive Board of UNESCO
UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, 20 October 2010
Mr President of the General Conference,
Distinguished Members of the Board,
Excellencies and dear colleagues,
Today, His Excellency Mr Sebastián Piñera, President of Chile is visiting the Executive Board on the occasion of the 185th session. It is with great pleasure that I would like to express, on your behalf, a warm welcome to President Piñera.
Your presence today in this House is a powerful testimony to the enduring relevance of UNESCO’s mission and honours all Executive Board Members. Since it joined UNESCO in 1953, Chile has been regularly elected a Member of the Executive Board. Chile’s membership was always active and this reflects your country’s constant dedication to UNESCO’s agenda and priorities. With legitimate pride, Chile as one of the first nations of Latin America, can boast of its great achievement concerning the Millennium Goal on Education. All Chilean children are enrolled at school, with access to free primary and secondary schooling, and girls are fully integrated in this process. Likewise, the creation in 1963 of UNESCO/OREALC, the Regional Bureau of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago de Chile, is a sign of UNESCO’s confidence in your country as the Organisation seeks to assisting all Member States of the region in the definition and development of their education policies.
I am certain that the entire international community is particularly happy that beginning this year global gender issues are secured and globally promoted by the single new body, UN Women, to be headed by a lady marshalling huge respect around the world, Michelle Bachelet, your predecessor as President of Chile, to whom I would like to pay tribute, on behalf of all of us, for her close and fruitful cooperation with UNESCO throughout her presidential mandate.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
How can I not mention one of the illustrious figures of Chilean and world history, Mr Pablo Neruda, Nobel Prize of Literature, poet and diplomat? Pablo Neruda honored the work of the Executive Board by his participation as Representative of Chile from 1971 and until his death in 1973. Firmly committed to eliminating scourges such as “ignorance and prejudice, … the doctrine of the inequality of men and races”; committed to sharing, dignity, respect for nature, solidarity and peace, he left a profound mark on the Organization. His philosophy and message conducive to assembling large constellations of ideas and actions, and his contribution to the reconciliation continues to inspire UNESCO’s interdisciplinary and intersectoral programmes. His message of humanism remains our shared heritage and our collective duty to be maintained in the minds of humans, generation after generation.
Over recent days and weeks the world has been following with bated breath the situation of the courageous group of 33 “trapped” miners in the North of Chile. I would like to ensure you that we were all in solidarity with these brave men, their families and all your compatriots. We are now full of joy that all turned out happily in the end. We must congratulate you for having personally engaged in and managed the coordination of this crisis, which could have turned out in a drama, but became an unprecedented victory in the history of mine tragedies.
Finally, allow me to extend a warm welcome to Mr Jorge Edwards the newly appointed Representative to the Board and Permanent Delegate of Chile to UNESCO, as well express my deep gratitude to his predecessor, Mr Christian Streeter for having cooperated with me effectively since I took office as Chairperson of the Board.
Thank you for your visit, Your Excellency. We very much look forward to listening to your words!