Director-General in Brussels to Strengthen Ties with European Union for Emergency Action

On 15 September, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, is undertaking a visit to Brussels, Belgium, to participate in a public hearing of the European Parliament on “The role of UNESCO for the protection and promotion of cultural diversity”, organized by the Committee on Culture and Education of the European Parliament, chaired by Ms Silvia Costa.

This is an opportunity to explain UNESCO’s action in the fight against illicit trafficking, the protection of cultural heritage and the response to emergency situations. In the recent years, UNESCO and the European Union have engaged in a strong partnership on several educational and cultural projects in response to the crises in Syria and Iraq. This partnership aims notably at safeguarding Syria’s cultural heritage, at strengthening the resilience of Jordan’s education system in the context of the refugee crisis, as well as at reforming technical and vocational education for youth in Iraq, so as to improve its quality and make young people’s skills more relevant to the labor market.

“Across the world, and here in Europe, I see how culture and education provide dignity, how it helps tackle social and economic challenges, how it strengthens confidence to build a better future. This is why I believe our cooperation with the European Union can grow stronger,” says Irina Bokova.

The Director-General will underline the need to foster cultural diversity and cultural literacy in Europe, to tackle the emergency situation in the Middle East and its consequences.

“In the Middle East, the impact of conflict on education and culture is unprecedented and devastating. Therefore, it is imperative that they are an integral part of the international response,” says Irina Bokova, with emphasis on intercultural dialogue and the role of education in paving the way to mutual understanding. In times of turmoil, the promotion of respect and dialogue between peoples is indispensable for social cohesion, for a vibrant civil society and for peace.

The Director-General is expected to hold bilateral meetings with Ms Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, as well as with Mr Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Mr Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, and Mr Hahn, European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy.

Irina Bokova will also hold a bilateral meeting with Mr Geert Bourgeois, Minister-President of the Flemish Government, longstanding partners of UNESCO.