UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, and the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, H.E. Mr Mladen Ivanić, participated in the official celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the inscription of the Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The event was organized under the patronage of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of UNESCO.
“Mostar is a strong symbol of what can be done when people stand united. It embodies the power of culture to build bridges between different communities", declared the Director-General.
“I wholeheartedly support authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and its communities, who are determined to transform their diversity into a source of strength, a force for peace" she added.
Referring to the rise of violent extremism in the world, the Director-General said "In these turbulence times, when cultural diversity is under attack in too many countries, when cultural heritage is deliberately destroyed, when individuals are persecuted in religious and cultural grounds, the message of Mostar has never been so important".
Thanking the Director-General for her participation in this important event, H.E. Mr Mladen Ivanic, Chairman of the Presidency, said that "the story of Mostar shows that Bosnia and Herzegovina has a positive message to send to the world". "Let us do all possible efforts to similar celebrations in the future and more heritage inscribed on the UNESCO world heritage list".
"Mostar is both a message of hope and a symbol of reconciliation" said the Mayor of Mostar, Mr Ljubo Beslic. "The City has its past but most importantly it has its future and I believe in a better future".
The Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2005. It is a symbol of reconciliation, international co-operation and of the coexistence of diverse cultural, ethnic and religious communities.
During the event, Mr Safet Orucevic, Chairman for Peace and Multi-Ethnic Cooperation Mostar and former Mayor of Mostar, awarded the Director-General with the prestigious Mostar Peace Connection Award for 2015.
“It is a great honour to become the first woman to receive this award and to join the company of such luminaries as Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel, Alojz Mock and Mohammad El Baradei,” said the Director-General.
“I accept this distinction on behalf of UNESCO, as an appeal to continue working for the values we share, as a call for UNESCO to stand for the protection of culture and human dignity,” she said.
During her visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Director-General was accompanied by H.E. Mr Ivan Orlic, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Bosnia and Herzegovina to UNESCO and to France.