During her official visit to Kazakhstan, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, met the Chairperson of the National Commission of the Republic of Kazakhstan for UNESCO and ISESCO, Mr Imangali Tasmagambetov, following the launch ceremony of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022).
The Director-General thanked Mr Imangali Tasmagambetov for Kazakhstan’s generous offer to host the official launch of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures in Astana. She welcomed the growing cooperation between Kazakhstan and UNESCO and thanked the country for its unfailing support for UNESCO’s mission and for the various initiatives taken to advance the Organization’s ideals.
Mr Imangali Tasmagambetov highlighted the importance that the Republic of Kazakhstan attaches to its cooperation with UNESCO in all its fields of competence and reaffirmed Kazakhstan’s commitment to further strengthen its cooperation with the Organization.
The Director-General also met Mr Erlan Idrissov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan. During this meeting, the Director-General informed the Minister of UNESCO’s current priorities and challenges and paid tribute to Kazakhstan’s steadfast support within the framework of the promotion of intercultural and interreligious dialogue for cooperation, mutual understanding and the rapprochement of cultures.
Mr Erlan Idrissov thanked the Director-General for the good relations and excellent cooperation that exists between the Republic of Kazakhstan and UNESCO. He reiterated Kazakhstan’s keen interest to advance the international cooperation within the United Nations system and renewed his government’s strong support to UNESCO Office in Almaty.
During her stay in Astana, the Director-General also held the bilateral meetings with Mr Sultan Raev, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan and Dr. Wole Soyinka, Nigerian writer, 1986 Nobel Laureate in Literature, during which they discussed the issues of common interest.
On 23 August, the Director-General visited the Eurasian National University where she signed an Agreement for the establishment of the UNESCO Chair on Ethnic and Religious Tolerance, which aims to develop an integrated system of research, training, information and documentation in the field of ethnic and religious tolerance, to build regional and international networks for training and research.
On this occasion, Professor Dr Sydykov Yerlan Battashevich, Rector of the Eurasian National University, conferred the Director-General with the degree of Honoris Causa. “I accept this award on behalf of UNESCO, as a sign of your commitment to the priorities and values guiding our work to build the defences of peace in the minds of women and men” said the Director-General. She also recalled that for UNESCO, peace cannot be based exclusively upon political and economic arrangements between Governments – “it must be founded upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind.”
The UNESCO Chair on Ethnic and Religious Tolerance will join four other Chairs that UNESCO has established in Kazakhstan – on Journalism and Communication created in 1996 at Kazakhstan State University; on Educational Science and Teacher Training created in 1999 at Almaty Abai State University; on Music, established in 2003 at the Kazakh National Academy of Music; and on Sciences and Spirituality created in 2004 at Institute of Oriental Studies at the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan.