Irina Bokova and President Vladimir Putin discuss protection of heritage and cultural diversity in Syria and Iraq

On 8 December 2014, in Saint Petersburg, Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, met with Mr Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, to discuss various aspects of UNESCO’s on-going cooperation with the Russian Federation as well as the Organization’s action in support of the protection of the cultural heritage in Syria and Iraq.

President Putin underlined that “the Russian Federation, which has always actively cooperated with UNESCO, intends to continue its firm support to the Organization in the future”.

President Putin expressed satisfaction at meeting the Director-General on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the Hermitage State Museum, which was taking place within the framework of the 3rd International Cultural Forum. He said that culture was an excellent platform to promote international cooperation and dialogue.

The Director-General underscored that UNESCO enjoyed solid cooperation with the Russian Federation in the area of the cultural heritage and diversity. “One example of such partnership is our flagship project with the Hermitage Museum since 25 years, which has contributed to the restoration, renovation and management of this unique place of culture”, she said.

President Putin recalled that the Russian Federation was celebrating the 60th anniversary of its membership in the Organization this year and in that connection, he commended UNESCO’s fruitful work in different parts and regions of the country.

Irina Bokova thanked the President for his encouraging remarks about UNESCO and pointed out that the bilateral cooperation was strong and multifaceted. In that connection, she highlighted the Organization’s joint action with the Russian Federation in many areas of its competence, especially in education, cultural heritage and scientific cooperation.

Speaking about the cooperation in the area of science and research, the Director-General informed the President about the work of the UN Secretary-General’s Scientific Advisory Board, which contributes to the elaboration of the global agenda relating to the sustainable development. She thanked the Russian Federation’s generous offer to host one of the regular sessions of the Scientific Board next year.

The Director-General informed the President of UNESCO’s efforts to protect cultural heritage and cultural diversity in Syria and Iraq as well as to prevent and stop the illicit trafficking of cultural goods. In that respect, she asked for the Russian Federation’s strong involvement, including its support for the inclusion of relevant provisions in future UN Security Council Resolutions.

President Putin agreed with the urgent need to protect the cultural heritage of Syria and Iraq and expressed support to UNESCO’s initiatives in that respect. He assured that the Russian Federation will take necessary measures towards that objective. The President reiterated his government’s commitment to work together with the Organization to achieve shared objectives of international cooperation.