The Director-General welcomed the Patriarch, recalling the previous visit of His Holiness Bartholomew I on 13 April 2011 and underlining that UNESCO will always remain as the House of peace and dialogue.
On 29 January 2014, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, met with His Holiness Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch. His Eminence Metropolitan Irinaios of Myriophyton and Peristasis and His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France were among the officials who were present at the meeting.
“Your visit today is yet another occasion for us to reiterate our shared commitment to the advancement of dialogue, mutual understanding and moral solidarity between cultures and peoples, including those of different faiths”, said Ms Irina Bokova.
The Director-General outlined the Organization’s leading role within the United Nations system for the implementation of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022), to advance tolerance, respect and inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue and she recalled the recent encounter with the Board of Directors of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), which she hosted at UNESCO on 22 January.
“Despite an unerring commitment among policy-makers and spiritual leaders to promoting dialogue between cultures and religions, misunderstandings still remain deep between societies and within them”, said the Director-General. “In a profoundly changing world, we need to make the most of every opportunity to discuss global challenges and act together to support peace and international understanding”, she continued. “We must also widen the boundaries of dialogue to make it a fully inclusive process”.
His Holiness Bartholomew I paid tribute to UNESCO’s efforts to promote the values of peace and international cooperation through education and culture. Commending the cordial relations existing between the Orthodox Christian Church and UNESCO, he mentioned the Organization’s role in combating ignorance through education and in protecting cultural monuments, including the sites of religious interest, “all places of worship should be respected and safeguarded as part of the common heritage of all humanity,” declared the Patriarch. He spoke also about his global efforts to consolidate the bonds of unity and cooperation among Orthodox Christian churches as well as his various activities to facilitate inter-church and inter-faith dialogue worldwide.