During the meeting, the President noted that Russia's cooperation with UNESCO has been developing successfully and recalled that this year marks 60 years since the Soviet Union’s accession to the organisation, while next year UNESCO will celebrate its 70th anniversary.
The UNESCO Director-General is taking part in in the Third St Petersburg International Cultural Forum, which is held annually. Irina Bokova has proposed that the next forum in St Petersburg is timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the founding of UNESCO.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ms Director-General, colleagues,
I am very pleased to meet with you – this time, at the State Hermitage in St Petersburg, and on a good occasion – the 250th anniversary of the foundation of our famous museum.
This year, we are marking the 60th anniversary of Russia’s, the Soviet Union’s accession to UNESCO, and next year, we will mark the 70th anniversary of the organisation itself. We have always worked and continue to work very closely together; we have always supported UNESCO’s work and will continue to do so in the future.
I must say that we are developing our cultural ties with the entire world very actively. Right now, an international culture forum is underway, which features representatives from 40 nations. This is a very good and useful international event.
We have a whole network of UNESCO structures working in many Russian regions and we are very happy that our relations are developing in such a positive way.
Unesco Director-General Irina Bokova: Thank you, Mr President, for mentioning the 60th anniversary of Russia’s UNESCO membership. I was here in April when we celebrated this anniversary together with Mr Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister and President of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO. We also held celebrations at our headquarters; we had a very good exhibition, and State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin visited us, and there was an interesting seminar. We are also getting ready to celebrate our organisation’s 70th anniversary.
I would like to express gratitude for all of these years of, I would say, very successful cooperation. We have monuments of worldwide heritage, we have many departments at various universities, institutes, goodwill ambassadors. President of the Russian Academy of Arts and sculptor Zurab Tsereteli even gave us a very interesting monument on behalf of the Government of Russia, which we would like to put in front of UNESCO. I would also like to thank you for this monument.
Very symbolically, UNESCO has been connected to the Hermitage for over a quarter of a century. My predecessors helped during somewhat more difficult times, working together with colleagues to restore certain objects in this collection, so I am very proud that I have inherited such a tradition of cooperation.
And, of course, the culture forum. Yesterday, I spoke at its opening. I even thought – and perhaps you will support this idea – that we can dedicate the next year’s culture forum to UNESCO’s 70th anniversary.
We will be celebrating UNESCO’s 70th anniversary the whole year; it would be our pleasure if you could visit the headquarters and take part in the session of the General Conference on November 16, or before that. I often communicate with Ms [Eleonora] Mitrofanova, Russia’s permanent representative to UNESCO. The culture forum can become the concluding part of UNESCO’s 70th anniversary celebrations. This will be symbolic for our very good relations.
Vladimir Putin: We will certainly support all of this and work with you to develop our joint programmes.