From 18 to 19 July 2014, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, paid her first official visit to Montenegro. The visit enabled her to discuss with the country’s leadership ways to deepen UNESCO’s cooperation with Montenegro. All officials whom she met expressed their appreciations for UNESCO’s assistance in priority areas and reiterated Montenegro’s support to the Organization and the Director-General’s reform agenda.
During the visit, Ms Bokova met and held bilateral meetings with H. E. Mr Filip Vujanovic, President of Montenegro; Mr Milo Djukanovic, Prime Minister; Mr Igor Luksic, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Foreign Affairs; Ms Sanja Vlahovic, Minister of Science; and Ms Nada Drobnjak, Chair of the Committee of the Montenegrin Parliament for Gender Equality.
The Director-General highlighted UNESCO’s solid and fruitful cooperation with Montenegro and paid tribute to the country’s support to the Organization, including in its capacity as a current member of the UNESCO Executive Board. She reiterated UNESCO’s commitment to reinforce this cooperation, especially through its Office in Venice.
Referring to the International Festival Kotor Art, that takes place every year under UNESCO’s patronage, Ms Bokova underlined the important role of this Festival in promoting intercultural dialogue and cultural industries in the region and internationally.
The Director-General reiterated UNESCO’s firm engagement in South-East Europe to promote regional cooperation and partnerships through its diverse projects in its fields of competence. She commended Montenegro’s active participation in regional cooperation platforms and expert networks supported by UNESCO, including Summits, Ministerial Conferences; Experts Networks, etc.
Ms Bokova spoke about the current priorities of UNESCO, including the re-positioning UNESCO’s leadership in various strategic areas at the global level as well as the on-going reform process in the Organization. Speaking about the key role of culture and sciences for the national development, she encouraged Montenegro to advocate for the inclusion of culture and sciences as enablers for development in the Post-2015 Agenda.
Ms Bokova and her counterparts exchanged views on UNESCO’s cooperation with Montenegro in a number of areas, including quality education, preservation of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage, science, technology and innovations.
President Filip Vujanovic expressed great appreciation for UNESCO’s continuous support in all fields of the Organization’s competence. He also underlined the importance of culture as a key promoter of Montenegro’s treasure and called UNESCO to preserve common cultural values and heritage in South-East Europe.
Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic recalled the historical background of his country’s engagement with UNESCO. He commended the Organization’s role in promoting tolerance and inter-religious dialogue and shared his country’s experience in preserving the national unity with full respect to cultural and religious diversity.
Mr Igor Luksic, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Foreign Affairs emphasized the need to further strengthen regional cooperation through common cultural projects. Referring to the joint nomination file of Medieval Tombstones Stecci by Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia as an excellent example of the regional partnership, he invited UNESCO to support similar initiatives in future.
Ms Sanja Vlahovic, Minister of Science, thanked UNESCO for its support in the organization of the regional conference on science journalism in Podgorica next September. She asked for the Organization’s assistance in promoting sciences, in particular basic sciences, among young people, as well as in reinforcing links between scientific communities and policy makers to jointly address the country’s needs.
While in Montenegro, the Director-General visited Kotor and Cetinje, where she also met with Ms Marija Catovic, Mayor of Kotor, and Mr Aleksandar Bogdanovic, Mayor of the Old Royal Capital Cetinje. Their discussions focused on the preservation of the cultural heritage in urban areas and the role of municipality to promote international cooperation. In Kotor, she attended the Boka Navy’s parade and has become the honorary member of this association that is determined to preserve the centuries-old traditions. In Rijeka Crnojevića, she participated in the event within the “Bridge on Rijeka Crnojevića Speaks” regional meeting which was organized by the Balkanika Foundation and the Municipality of Centije with the support of UNESCO Office in Venice.