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Welcoming address by Edward Nalbandian, RA Minister of Foreign Affairs, President of the Armenian National Commission for UNESCO


“Cultural policy. Policy for culture. The role of culture in sustainable development after 2015” International Conference dedicated to the 70th anniversary of UNESCO

Deputy Director-General of UNESCO, Mr. D’Arminyan,
Dear Participants of the Conference,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I greet all the participants of the forum and wish the guests to our country a warm welcome. It is noteworthy that the third conference under this heading coincides with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations and its special agency - the UNESCO, the events taking place within the framework of which are the best opportunities to sum up the achievements of the last seven decades and to envisage nowadays’ challenges and possible solutions. Being established after World War II and given the lessons learned from that horrible war, these international organizations set a goal to contribute to the consolidation of peace in the world as well as to the advancement of universal values.

Only political and economic factors are not sufficient on the road of building lasting peace between peoples and states. In this regard the cultural factor is of not less importance. During the passing period UNESCO made considerable efforts aimed at the preservation of cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue, cultural heritage and strengthening of inter-civilization solidarity.

Unfortunately, throughout history different destructive brutalities have annihilated civilizations, eliminated, unrooted cultures from their cradles. In the 21st century the atrocities against cultural heritage in different regions of the world, such as, for instance, the destruction of the Buddha statues in Afghanistan in 2001, Armenian cross stones in Nakhijevan by the Azerbaijani army, the devastation of 2000-year-old monuments in the Syrian city of Palmyra several weeks ago are evidences that manifestations of religious and national hatred are equally directed against cultural values. Nowadays in the Middle East thousands of years old cultural monuments are at risk.

The intolerance against values of another civilization, the damage, destruction of cultural or religious heritage, should be resolutely condemned by the international community. Following with great concern the situation in Iraq and Syria, we express our support to the UNESCO initiative “Join for heritage”. We are hopeful, that international community through UNESCO can play an essential role in the development of such effective mechanisms, through the help of which it would be possible to prevent future acts of cultural vandalism.

This year we mark the Armenian Genocide Centennial. The first Genocide of the 20th century began with the arrest and murder of Armenian intellectuals and cultural figures. The purpose of the Armenian Genocide was not only the physical extermination of the Armenian nation, but also the destruction of our millennia-old and worldwide respected cultural potential. Therefore, within the framework of the events dedicated to the Armenian Genocide Centennial we also pay tribute to the massive heritage, that we lost in the result of the genocide. It is unfortunate that during the Centennial we witnessed the destruction of Saint Martyrs Armenian Church in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor by terrorists, which housed the remains of many victims of the Armenian Genocide. At the same time this is an evidence of the symbolic connection between the crimes against humanity in the past and in the present. As 100 years ago, nowadays the forces of hatred and intolerance direct the first shock towards the cultural heritage for the achievement of their goals, in as much as culture is a bridging circle between generations.

Being the first Christian state in the world and located at the crossroad of cultures and religions, Armenia for centuries has had a unique opportunity of interaction with different civilizations. This inter-civilizational interaction was fruitful for our culture and enriched other cultures as well. One of the important achievements of such millennia-old interconnectedness is the cherished respect by Armenian people towards other cultures, religions and traditions, the examples of evidence of which, particularly, are the reconstructed Persian Blue mosque from 1776, located at the centre of Yerevan, the old Jewish cemetery of 13th Century near Yeghegis town and many other examples.

Cultural heritage created during centuries is a big treasure for those countries, where they are located. Interlinking the history of different peoples it paves the way for the development of cooperation, tourism and stable development. Since 2009 the “Roads of Culture and Tourism for Development and Dialogue in Armenia” program has been implemented, which is aimed at ensuring of the protection of cultural heritage, including material and non-material cultural values, development of cultural tourism engaging the places where the monuments included in the list of UNESCO world heritage are located and are included in the representative list of non-material cultural heritage.

Dear attendees,

Today the imperative for stable development is more than actual. The role of culture is undeniable in the stable development of the society, at the core of which are the human being and society with their aspiration for harmonic development, welfare provision and aspiration for peace. A clear understanding and correct perception of this simple truth by humanity can be a strong impetus not only for economic development, but also strengthening of stability and peace in the world. I am hopeful that this Conference also will serve to these noble goals.

Thank you.

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Welcoming address by Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian at the Conference dedicated to the 70th anniversary of UNESCO

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