31 мая 2011


Your Excellency Ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova,
Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO
and Chairperson of the Executive Board,

Your Excellency Ambassador Veronika Stabej,
Permanent Delegate of Slovenia to UNESCO,

Mrs Andreja Rihter,
President of the Forum of Slavic Cultures,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to open this exhibition dedicated to Slavic cultures.

I wish to congratulate and thank the Permanent Delegations of the Russian Federation and Slovenia for this initiative.

I am aware that this follows a successful meeting of the Forum of Slavic Cultures at UNESCO Headquarters on 24 May, the Day of Slavic Alphabet and Culture.

This pays tribute to the dedication of the Member States of the Forum for Slavic Cultures, who also initiated this exhibition, to preserving and promoting the values that are shared by Slavic-speaking countries.

These ties were first woven by Saints Cyril and Methodius, who created the Old Church Slavonic alphabet.

This alphabet laid the basis for the written language of the Slavic peoples and for the development of deep cultural relations that have enriched the culture of humanity as a whole.

Consider, for instance, the manuscript known as Codex Suprasliensis, which is included on UNESCO’s Memory of the World List.

The Codex is the largest existing Old Church Slavonic canon text, dating back to the 11th Century. But its significance lies also in the fact that this literary work is shared between Slovenia, Russia and Poland – embodying deep ties of cultural and historical kinship.

This exhibition pays tribute to these ties of history and culture.

It features photographs of World Heritage sites, stunning icons – namely one from Bulgaria representing the Saints Cyril and Methodius -- costumes from all of the Slavic peoples, and a fascinating collection of paintings of Slavic legends and myths.

Together, all of these capture the wealth of the imaginative, spiritual and physical heritage of Slavic peoples.

It is interesting to note that some 10 percent of all sites inscribed on the World Heritage List are located in Slavic countries. Some of these are represented here today. These are, indeed, sites that have outstanding universal value to the whole of humanity.

This exhibition embodies also the spirit of the 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions – to celebrate the cultural expressions that make up the great diversity of humanity, and to protect them for the values they carry and transmit.

Cultural expressions and traditions are integral to the lives of societies. They provide a sense of identity and continuity that is vital at times of accelerating social changes. They are also the mainspring of the world’s cultural diversity.

This exhibition resonates with the work that UNESCO undertakes with museums around the world to protect moveable cultural property.

This is also why UNESCO developed the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage – to support communities in understanding and expressing their emotions, values and visions of the world by practicing and transmitting their living heritage.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

These tasks lie at the heart of UNESCO’s mandate.

For all of these reasons, I express my deep appreciation and thanks once again to the organizers of this exhibition.

This is a beautiful exhibition – it is also an important exhibition.

I wish all a most enjoyable experience of the wealth of Slavic cultural heritage.

Thank you.