Irina Bokova: we must build bridges between societies to make the most of the power of culture

“Bridges perform essential roles in bringing people and cultures together in dialogue and cooperation, for mutual understanding and respect,” said the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, in a video message on the occasion of the opening of the first “Meric Bridge Speaks” event held on 24 and 25 November in Edirne, Turkey.

Organized in the framework of the “Culture: A Bridge to Development” initiative, this regional encounter brought together culture professionals, municipalities, intellectuals, universities, and private counterparts from South East Europe. The initiative “Culture: A Bridge to Development” was launched by the Director-General in September 2011. It seeks to promote innovative and creative approaches that enhance culture as a bridge and dynamic force of co-operation, creating opportunities and mechanisms for inclusive economic development, social cohesion, and peace.

“We start here, on this historic Meric Bridge – and we will continue throughout the region, on other bridges that carry equally great significance in building intercultural dialogue, in reminding people of the values and history they share,” continued the Director-General.

This event was organized by UNESCO, in co-operation with the Governorate and Municipality of Edirne, the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahçeşehir University and the Chamber of Commerce of Edirne.