Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues and guests,
Today’s meeting is devoted to international aspects of Russia’s policies in the sphere of culture and art. And I am very happy to welcome Koichiro Matsuura, the General Director of UNESCO, to our council.
I hope that the discussion ahead will allow both us and you, Mr General Director, to better see and evaluate the growing capabilities of Russia in international cultural cooperation. I must stress that free creativity and the lack of ideological restrictions have significantly broadened the spectrum of Russian culture and added to its opportunities in the world.
Accordingly, we could get a new look at the prospects of Russia’s cooperation with UNESCO, and also with other international organisations in the sphere of culture.
It is clear that culture is a very strong factor for individual peoples and entire nations to come closer together. It has its tools of influence and its own universal language. A language that is understandable to people of the most varied ethnic backgrounds and religions, convictions and views. It is these qualities that make culture an effective tool of cooperation and bring it to the level of one of the fundamental bases of international dialogue.
We fully share UNESCO’s position in the support and development of the “dialogue of civilisations”. We believe that the depth and nature of this dialogue depends in many ways on both the stability of world order and the prosperity of each country.
Connected with this topic is Russia’s role in the development of world cultural diversity, and we will discuss this today.
I am absolutely convinced that the very history of Russia, the long co-existence within the country of a whole multitude of peoples and unique cultures gives us excellent opportunities for sharing this experience.
Furthermore, Russia, as a Eurasian country, is a unique example where the dialogue of cultural civilisations has become a centuries-old tradition of state and public life.
We believe that this diversity is the privilege and wealth of the country, its strength. In essence, it is an integral part of our state policies. Policies that benefit all of Russia, that benefit its unity, consolidation and cooperation of peoples.
Russia is one of the undoubted leaders of the international cultural process. It entered UNESCO almost half a century ago and has successfully taken part in many international cultural projects. We have something to offer the world, something to be proud of.
Everyone knows the invaluable contribution that Russian writers, artists, composers and musicians have made to international culture, and the enormous spiritual and cultural potential that our country has. And how generously it shares this with other countries of the world in our modern era.
Today Russia has all the necessary resources to be involved more actively in large-scale projects that are carried out under the aegis of UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and other international organisations.
This primarily concerns the programmes that take into account new directions in the development of the international community, including the advantages of globalisation. In connection with this, we see considerable potential in the integration of Russian cultural objects and tourist routes into the international network and in training specialists who have the necessary skills in the conditions of a free market. And in general, we see our participation in the international cultural process as based on the principles of pragmatism and flexibility of approaches. We see this as dynamic and appropriate to the demands of today.
The next important direction in cooperation is Russia’s role in the development of the so-called non-material culture, which is also a target of UNESCO activity.
An example of this is the State Russia House of Folk Art. Today this organisation works actively, and has an extensive regional network. Its activity encompasses the development of folklore and traditional crafts, lifestyles, customs and public holidays. And here we consider that the recently passed Convention on Protecting Non-Material Cultural Heritage is an important contribution by UNESCO.
I would also like to add that all this diversity of culture is “soaked up” by the younger generation of Russian citizens. Young people are truly included in the process of creativity, they work with vigour on the revival of folk crafts and bring modern management to this sphere.
In conclusion, I would like to say: we thank UNESCO for help in protecting and reviving our national cultural heritage, for assisting Russian fundamental science, for supporting our libraries, for educational programmes, including in problematic areas of Russia such as the Chechen Republic. I would make special mention of such joint projects as “Hermitage-UNESCO” and “Russian State Libraries.”
I am also certain that Russia today has an enormous potential, which has so far not been used to the full, in the development of contemporary world culture.
Today, when our country has become significantly stronger both economically and politically, we have every opportunity to move to a new, even more fruitful stage of cooperation with UNESCO. This should to a large degree be helped by structural reforms in the organisation itself.
I hope that our discussion today will also give the necessary stimulus to developing Russia’s cooperation with international and regional organisations. And what is particularly important – it will encourage our regions to take part in this cooperation.
Thank you for your attention.