Ladies and Gentlemen,
In my capacity as Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation and Chairperson of the Executive Board of UNESCO, I am very pleased to open this concert of Slavic cultures at UNESCO Headquarters, for I believe that it will mark the beginning of a tradition of holding such joint artistic events in this prestigious Organization, which is celebrating the International Year of the Rapprochement of Cultures in 2010.
In that regard, I should like, in particular, to thank my colleagues, the Ambassadors of Belarus, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine, who have vested special confidence in me to deliver this address on behalf of our countries and peoples.
Ladies and gentlemen, the purpose of today’s event, closely linked to the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development observed on 21 May, is to make the culture of Slavic peoples, united by their close languages and common origin, better known as an example of extreme diversity of mutually enriching cultures.
The various regional integration processes initiated worldwide in the last few decades have highlighted the need to preserve and develop shared cultural values and traditions in Slavic-speaking countries and to strengthen the ideological and political role and place of the Slavic world in close connection with Western Europe, the Mediterranean area, Asia Minor and beyond. This quest to revive their common identity led to the establishment of the Forum of Slavic Cultures in 2004. Based in Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia and UNESCO world book capital for 2010, the Forum promotes international cooperation in the cultural, educational and scientific fields.
Performers from 11 countries, all members of the Forum of Slavic Cultures, will now display the diversity and richness of our cultural and spiritual inheritance. The Slavic contribution to the development of world cultural heritage is invaluable. The Slavic nations have not only assimilated the experience of world culture in a critical spirit and have refashioned it, but they have also enriched it with new spiritual and artistic values. The works of so many Slavic musicians, writers and poets have been intimately linked to the ideals of justice, universal freedom and the common good!
More than three hundred years ago, in his profoundly humanistic teachings, Jan Komensky, known as Comenius, disseminated a message concerning the achievement of universal peace through mutual understanding and cultural and scientific collaboration among peoples and through universal education, irrespective of religion, nationality, gender or social position.
In recognition of such an outstanding role played by the Slavic countries in the concert of world nations, UNESCO embarked in the 1970s and 1980s on an integrated study of the cultures of the whole Slavic world from the cultural and historical points of view. The main outcomes of that interdisciplinary programme were a series of international conferences and the publication of essays on prominent figures of Slavic culture.
Dear friends, a long time ago, the leading representatives of the Slavic cultures readily acknowledged that cultural relations between them were meaningful only when their purpose was to serve humankind in its entirety. In today’s world let us encourage UNESCO to continue to play its leading role in promoting the humanistic values of different cultures. The Slavic cultural effort to that end must continue to grow and to be powerful.
I wish you a pleasant evening.