The President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman met with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, during a visit to the Organization’s Paris Headquarters on 10 September.
Their discussions ranged over several topics including cooperation between the Czech Republic and UNESCO, the role of the Organization in the post-2015 international development agenda, and the safeguarding of cultural heritage in conflict zones.
“Our meeting is an opportunity for me to express UNESCO’s commitment to our cooperation,” said the Director-General. “Culture is a flagship of our partnership […] We must build on the power of heritage as a source of identity and cohesion at a time of change and I thank the Czech Republic for its leadership here.”
President Zeman stressed the urgent need to protect cultural heritage threatened by conflict and other crises. "If you destroy cultural and historical heritage, you destroy part of yourself,” he said.
The Czech Republic joined UNESCO in 1993 and fully participates in the Organization’s programmes and activities. For example, the Republic co-sponsors UNESCO’s Fellowship Programme, which has awarded 190 fellowships since 1995. The Republic’s Government has placed three long-term fellowships for 2014-2015 at UNESCO’s disposal. These have so far benefitted recipients from several countries in post-conflict situations.
The Czech Republic has 12 sites on UNESCO’s World heritage List, including the Historical Centre of Prague, and the Tugendhat Villa in Brno. There are four elements from the Czech Republic on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.