On 26 August 2013, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, inaugurated the International Conference “Musical traditions of the Orient in the Context of Contemporary Culture”, which is organized in Samarkand within the framework of the 9th International Music Festival “SharqTaronalari” (‘Melodies of the Orient’). The opening ceremony took place in the presence of Mr Adkham Ikramov, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and Mr Minkhojiddin Khodjimatov, Minister of Culture and Sports.
“Intangible heritage is a wellspring of meaning and belonging, a tribute to our ancestors, a way to transmit our dreams to future generations,” said the Director-General. “Together, we believe intangible heritage is a source of creativity, a force for renewal and innovation. Building on the past, our vision is forward-looking – a vision of sustainability. I am convinced intangible heritage is one of our strongest assets to build the future we want for all”.
In her opening speech, Irina Bokova also recalled that Shashmaqom Music and Katta Ashula were inscribed on the Representative List of the 2003 Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention. She said that “both were precious for the people of Uzbekistan – both were part of the heritage of all humanity”.
On the same day, the Director-General visited the Samarkand Institute of Economics and Services, where she was introduced to the activities of the UNESCO Chair of Automated Information Technologies as well as the UNESCO Chair on Preservation and Management of Historic Centers at the Samarkand State Institute of Architecture and Civil Engineering. Irina Bokova encouraged these Chairs to cooperate actively with other members of the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Network within and beyond the region.
While in Samarkand, the Director-General visited the International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS - Category 2 Institute under the auspices of UNESCO). The Institute officials informed the Director-General of the various activities of the IICAS, seeking to promote scientific cooperation to research the rich history and cultural heritage of the region. The IICAS was established in August 1995 in Samarkand as a direct outcome of the UNESCO Silk Roads Expeditions. The main objectives of IICAS are to coordinate and promote multi-disciplinary research in domains pertaining to Central Asia, and further regional, inter-regional and international cooperation in its areas of competence – including, tangible and intangible cultural heritage, archaeology, history, history of art, ethnography, history of religions, environments, historical geography, written and oral literature and social sciences.