Dear Alsou, Madam Director-General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, As Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation, and as a woman, I am particularly happy today to welcome here to UNESCO Headquarters the first Russian woman, known for her artistic talents and committed actions of solidarity, generosity and charity, to join that group of eminent personalities, the UNESCO Artists for Peace. In this noble endeavour the popular singer, songwriter, pianist and actress Ms Alsou Abramova is following in the footsteps of the many celebrities who help UNESCO to promote its ideals and messages worldwide. Previously, three of our prominent, internationally renowned compatriots – conductor Valery Guerguiev, musician Vladimir Spivakov and classical pianist Serguei Markarov – were designated UNESCO Artists for Peace for their commitment to the arts and creativity. UNESCO’s daily work to reinforce the defences of peace, of justice, of tolerance and of human rights will be now redoubled with Alsou’s charisma, influence, enthusiastic ideas and dedicated projects. Her designation is a further, exceptional addition to the remarkable cooperation that the Russian Federation, and more specifically its Republic of Tatarstan, Alsou’s motherland, maintains with UNESCO, based on its rich artistic, cultural and human heritage and constant support to UNESCO’s principles. Alsou’s personal contribution to this venture will be as powerful, wide-ranging and varied as her personal background is international, inventive and tuneful. She won international recognition at the age of 15 and in 2000 took second place in the popular Eurovision song contest. Nine years later Alsou was hosting the final of the Eurovision song contest in Moscow. She also won the Best Russian Singer MTV-Europe Music Award and has recorded albums with Enrique Iglesias, Bon Jovi and Nelly. In December last year she hosted the ceremony to celebrate UNESCO’s 65th anniversary at the Organization’s Headquarters. This year Alsou will represent the Russian Federation in receiving the Olympic Flame in Beijing and taking it to Kazan, capital of Tatarstan, for the 2013 Universiade. Ms Abramova is one of the founders and organizers of the International Folk Music Festival of Peoples of the Volga River, which attracts thousands of spectators every year, and of the Rainbow Foundation, which helps restore schools and hospitals and build churches and mosques and assists underprivileged people around the world. She provides grant assistance to orphanages, environmental organizations and folk art museums, and regularly organizes charitable concerts in favour of children and veterans. Dear Alsou, In my capacity as Chairperson of the Executive Board, I would particularly like to welcome wholeheartedly your intense desire to place music in the service of peace, in line with UNESCO’s constitutional values. Music, it is my profound belief, as indeed it is yours, is a powerful instrument federating all peoples’ goodwill and inspiring tolerance and harmonious coexistence. It is a genuinely universal language which cuts across religious, social, gender and intergenerational barriers and serves as a perfect bridge between communities. Music is an ideal messenger of examples of non-violence, respect, love and life. Music is not only ears and eyes; it is our mind, heart and soul. It is one of the most significant components of the world’s and your country’s intangible heritage. Your designation as UNESCO Artist for Peace is an international recognition of your efforts to strengthen dialogue among cultures and understanding between peoples, through your music, which reaches out to young people in particular. Being an Artist for Peace is a weighty and beautiful task, demonstrating what is possible with goodwill and imagination. You deserve it, because you are “100 percent natural and factual”. I wish you every success in your new mission at the service of the international community, sharing universal values and knowledge through the diversity of cultures. “Nothing more and nothing less!” All the best to you on this not easy way!