In Sofia UNESCO Director-General presented challenges the organization faces

Photo: BGNES

Director General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay visited Bulgaria on May 23 and 24 at the invitation of President Rumen Radev. Cooperation between Bulgaria and UNESCO, as well as the priorities of the country as a member of the Executive Board of the organization were among the topics in their conversation. "Bulgaria is a country that has contributed to the development of European civilization and works for the building of a peaceful world based on cooperation and overcoming of ethnic, religious and race differences," the President said. After meeting with the head of state, Audrey Azoulay pointed out that the organization will support the establishment of an International Institute for Sustainable Technologies in Bulgaria, which will focus on medical research. We recall that this idea was launched by the President as early as 2017 when he met with Ms. Azoulay in Paris. During her visit to Sofia, the Director General of UNESCO met with Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and with the Chairman of the Committee on Culture and Media at the National Assembly, Vezhdi Rashidov, who asked for her support for the inclusion of the iron church of St. Stephen in Istanbul in the World Heritage List of the organization. Rashidov said that initial talks with Turkey had already been held on the topic of the two countries filing a joint bid. UNESCO Director General visited the Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" where she held a public lecture on the topic of "UNESCO and the Challenges of the 21st Century". Audrey Azoulay spoke about the difficulties we are facing today and the fact that they cannot be met without the help of education, culture, science and international cooperation. Major environmental problems also exist, including climate changes and loss of biodiversity. As far as technologies are concerned, the big question is how digitization and artificial intelligence are changing the way we learn and communicate, as well as changing social relations. The issue of extremism is another challenge we have to deal with, and the fourth important issue is equality between men and women. All these are issues of huge importance and cannot be solved by one country, Azoulay said, pointing out that states should therefore cooperate on a regional level.

In her lecture at the Sofia University, she pointed out the importance of protection of cultural heritage and diversity around the world, which is related to the identity of nations. According to her, knowledge of cultural heritage raises interest in the culture of others. She pointed out culture and heritage can be a factor for economic development as well as peace-making factor.

At the end of her lecture, Audrey Azoulay thanked Bulgaria for its commitment to UNESCO’s activities in the sphere of culture.

English: Alexander Markov

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