On 25 August, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, met with the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, His Excellency Mr Islam Karimov.
During the meeting, the Director-General commended the Uzbek authorities for organizing the biennial Samarkand Music Festival “Sharq taronalari,” which has become a recognized music event within and beyond the region.
Ms Bokova recalled that UNESCO enjoys excellent relations with Uzbekistan, which celebrated the 20th anniversary of its membership in the Organization this year. She thanked the President for the active role Uzbekistan is playing in UNESCO and reassured him of UNESCO’s readiness to continue offering its assistance in the preservation and safeguarding of the country’s cultural heritage, the promotion of quality education and the development of the civil society.
President Karimov expressed his appreciation to the Director-General for her visit and highlighted the important role of UNESCO in promoting sustainable development and in the fight against illiteracy, ignorance and radicalism. He underscored that, over the past two decades, Uzbekistan had attached much importance to its cooperation with UNESCO in its fields of competence and expressed his appreciation for the numerous activities carried out by the UNESCO Office in Tashkent. He explained that the most important goal for his country was education – to ensure that the next generation is an independently thinking youth with the 21st century skills.
The Director-General held bilateral meetings with Mr Adkham Ikramov, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of educational, health and social protection issues, and Chairman of the National Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan for UNESCO. During this meeting, the Director-General underlined the active role that the Uzbek National Commission plays in promoting UNESCO’s objectives in the country. She commended the educational reforms that have been launched and affirmed that UNESCO was ready to cooperate with national authorities in the fields of education, the sciences, culture, and communication and information.
Mr Ikramov informed the Director-General of the concrete results achieved in Uzbekistan in the fields of UNESCO’s mandate and underscored the Government’s interest to cooperate with the Organization, through its Office in Tashkent, in such areas as education sector reform, groundwater management, the preservation of cultural heritage and media development.
During her meeting with Mr Abdulaziz Kamilov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Director-General exchanged views on the global priorities of UNESCO as well as its activities at the regional and national levels. She highlighted the importance of culture and cultural heritage in shaping national identities and in consolidating the bonds of cooperation among countries. She stated that UNESCO stood ready to offer its expertise to preserve the rich cultural heritage of Uzbekistan. Mr Kamilov renewed the government’s commitment to strengthen the good relations and excellent cooperation that exist between the Republic of Uzbekistan and UNESCO.
The Director-General also met with the Minister of Culture, Minister of Secondary Special and Higher Education and the Deputy Minister of Public Education, with whom she discussed UNESCO’s cooperation with Uzbekistan in these areas.
On the same day, the Director-General also met with the members of the United Nations Country Team as well as the staff of the UNESCO Office in Tashkent. She visited the Navoi National Library of Uzbekistan and the Palace of Symposiums, the Uspenski Academic Music School, the Children-Youth School of Olympic reserve specializing in artistic gymnastics, and the Republican Center of the social adaptation of children.