President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ms Bokova,
We met exactly a year ago, and just now in your speech [at the plenary session of the St Petersburg International Cultural Forum] you mentioned that that meeting was held in connection with the State Hermitage Museum anniversary. Now we mark UNESCO's anniversary.
It is good to know that we have business-like and very friendly relations with the specialised agencies of the United Nations, including UNESCO. We have always supported and intend to further support your work.
We are thankful to you for taking part in the events organised in Russia and for speaking highly of our efforts to support culture.
I want to reassure you that this is one of the key areas in our work though we are aware that what we do is not enough. We count on your support and assistance in the future.
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova: Thank you, Mr President. Thank you for your kind words about UNESCO.
Naturally, it is an enormous honour to celebrate our organisation’s 70th anniversary with you here in St Petersburg. And this cultural forum was confirmed as one of the most important forums, addressing problems in culture and creating cultural heritage.
We can see how important these issues are today, politically speaking. You yourself talked about why cultural heritage is important, how we must preserve it, particularly in conflict zones where we see destruction, such as Syria, Iraq and other nations.
I am particularly grateful to you for Russia’s initiative to submit Resolution No. 2199, which we discussed before submission, to the Security Council. And you included preservation of heritage and the need to stop unlawful trafficking of items of cultural value that are then used to finance extremism among the problems to be addressed.
We have developed cooperation with Russia in the field of science, with 56 UNESCO departments, which is the highest number of UNESCO departments. We have many documents that are included in other programmes. We are cooperating in the field of education, new technologies, and communications. We are creating a science council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spent an entire day in St Petersburg on the Russian Academy of Sciences’ invitation, so we could say that we have full-scale cooperation.
I want to once again thank you for the invitation to join you to celebrate UNESCO’s 70th anniversary here in St Petersburg.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much for your visit.