Aleksandr Lukashenko meets with UNESCO DirectorGeneral Irina Bokova

    The preservation of cultural legacy objects contributes to stronger statehood. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement as he met with UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova on 18 April.

    The head of state emphasized the importance of Irina Bokova’s visit to Minsk which is dedicated to the 60th anniversary of Belarus’ membership in UNESCO.

    “I am glad to say that you are not a stranger for us. You are from Bulgaria. Since Soviet times we have traditionally maintained good relations with this country and have bought many products,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    The President praised the role of UNESCO in the modern world. He stressed that UNESCO’s efforts are very symbolical and important. The head of state said that cooperation between nations for the sake of security via science, education, and culture was one of the charter goals of the organization. “We are pleased with the fact that UNESCO takes care of such problems,” the head of state noted.

    In his words, Belarus has something to contribute in view of the 60th anniversary of the country’s membership in UNESCO, particularly in the spheres of education and science. Aleksandr Lukashenko said that as much as 5% of the country’s GDP is spent on education. Some while ago Aleksandr Lukashenko met with scientists to discuss long-term and medium-term priorities of Belarusian science.

    As far as culture is concerned, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Irina Bokova will be able to see major places of interest in Belarus for herself, including those inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List.

    The President pointed out the importance of preserving cultural legacy objects. “It is very important for us to find something in our past to connect us with the present. We have no intention of forgetting our origin. Therefore, we pay close attention to such objects. Moreover, they contribute to our stronger statehood and once again prove that Belarus is an ancient land, that various states have existed here, that the land has seen various fates. But today’s Belarus is a self-relying independent country, with the roots going deep into the past,” he said.

    The President thanked the Director General of UNESCO for the visit and added that the organization’s heads had visited Belarus. “If would be unfair of you not to visit us as the UNESCO Director General,” Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked. “You will always be able to count on us in the organization — we will always support your initiatives. Moreover, these initiatives are essential and advantageous not only for Belarus but for the entire mankind”.

    Irina Bokova, for her part, assured the UNESCO will continue all-round cooperation with Belarus and will keep working to preserve Belarus’ cultural heritage.

    The UNESCO Director General believes that UNESCO offers a broad platform for international cooperation in the field of cultural heritage, science and education. She pointed out the significance of joint efforts. “We should continue the work the organization started nearly 70 years ago. We will keep working on preserving Belarus’ heritage,” the Director General said.

    Irina Bokova also remarked that “Belarus has many things to offer to the world”.

    She shared her impressions of visiting the Belarusian State University where she read a lecture. Irina Bokova was impressed by the huge interest of the students in UNESCO’s activities. “They know about UNESCO, they are interested in preserving tangible and intangible property; they asked how many Belarus’ cultural assets and traditions might be inscribed on the World Heritage List,” Irina Bokova said.

    In her words, if young people know their history and are confident about their national identity, they will feel more secure and will be better able to address today’s issues.

    The UNESCO Director General assured: “We will work together to promote the cultural identity and protect cultural assets. We will not just look somewhere; we will look into the future”.