On 3 May, during her official visit to the Republic of Latvia, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, met with the President of the Republic, Andris Bērziņš.
The President welcomed the Director-General to Latvia and thanked her for the strong cooperation of UNESCO --notably in education, culture and freedom of expression.
The President underlined the crucial importance of skills for young people today in Latvia, as the basis also for innovation and sustainable development. He noted the role of higher education in this respect and the reforms being undertaken in Latvia in this respect.
The Director-General congratulated the President and the people of Latvia on the 25th anniversary of the restoration of independence. She thanked the President for the leadership of Latvia in cooperation with UNESCO, as well as through the Presidency of the Council of the EU -- noting the importance of global citizenship education in particular, as a contribution to the global development agenda to follow 2015. She expressed gratitude also for the announced contribution to the UNESCO International Programme of Communication for Development.
The President highlighted the importance of arts and culture education for creativity and stability. He underlined here the rich diversity of influences in Latvia and pointed to the traditional Song and Dance Festival, held in Latvia, as an example of this rich living heritage.
Ms Bokova referred also to this rich intangible cultural heritage, which she had witnessed in the collection of 2 million folksongs held at the National Library of Latvia, with whose construction UNESCO was associated since 1999. She stressed the exchange and dialogue between peoples that lie at the heart of all cultures. The Director-General noted that the visit she had taken of the old town of Riga, World Heritage Site, had shown this in all its splendour.
In concluding, the Director-General thanked the President once again for the leadership of the Latvian Government in co-hosting the International Conference for World Press Freedom Day.