On the first day of her official visit to Slovenia, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, met with the Minister of Culture, Mr. Uros Grilc, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Karl Erjavec and the Mayor of Ljubljana, Mr. Zoran Jankovic.
"Culture, arts education and creative industries are key drivers of creativity and innovation," said Irina Bokova. "Europe needs to invest more in these drivers, as well as in research and development, and science and education, as a way out of the crisis".
The Director-General welcomed the positive consequences of the designation of Ljubljana as World Book Capital in 2010, which greatly stimulated the artistic and cultural fabric of the city by multiplying literary and artistic events, with important social and economic benefits to the population.
During a visit to the Škocjan Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage site inscribed on the List in 1986, the Director-General highlighted the uniqueness of the conservation of the site, commending the exemplary work of managers who help make this site an example of good management, which UNESCO chose to highlight among good practices on the occasion of 40th anniversary of the 1972 Convention.
In the evening, the Director-General opened the exhibition "Imagining the Balkans," designed and prepared by UNESCO with the support of 12 national museums in the region, under UNESCO’s initiative "Culture: a Bridge to Development". The exhibition brings together for the first time objects loaned by museums across southeast Europe, on the basis of shared memory of cultural traditions as a lever for reconciliation and dialogue between cultures.
In her opening address, the Director-General underlined the role of such initiatives in promoting social inclusion, and cooperation, in the presence of the Minister of Culture, Mr. Uros Grilc, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou and the Director of the National Museum of Slovenia, Barbara Ravnik.