2 December 2008
On 28 November 2008, Mr Koichiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, and Mr Zhanseit Tuimebayev, Minister of Education and Science of Kazakhstan, Chairperson of the Board of Intergovernmental Foundation for Educational, Scientific and Cultural Cooperation (IFESCCO) of the Community of Independent States (CIS), signed a Memorandum of Understanding between UNESCO and IFESCCO.Also present at the ceremony were: Mrs Jahan Pollyeva, Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation, Chairperson of the Inter-State Council for Humanitarian Cooperation of CIS; Representative of the Russian Federation to IFESCCO; Mr Polad Bulbuloglu, Ambassador of Azerbaijan in Moscow, Representative of Azerbaijan to IFESCCO; Mr Vigen Sargsyan, Assistant to the President of Armenia, Representative of Armenia to IFESCCO; Mr Mikhail Shvydkoi, Member of the Board of IFESCCO, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for International Cultural Cooperation; Mr Alexandre Yakovenko, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, as well as Ambassadors and representatives of the Delegations of the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova to UNESCO.
Welcoming his guests to UNESCO, the Director-General recalled his discussions with the then President Putin in February 2003 on possible ways and means of strengthening cooperation between UNESCO and the Community of Independent States in the Organization’s fields of competence. Mr Matsuura further explained that the idea began to take shape with the establishment in 2006 by Governments of some CIS countries of the Intergovernmental Foundation for Education, Scientific and Cultural Cooperation (IFESCCO). The Foundation presently comprises eight Member States: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The mission of IFESCCO as a specialized organization for humanitarian cooperation within CIS is to contribute to the development of CIS’s common humanitarian space, to sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, sciences, culture, communications, information, archives, sports, tourism and youth work. “It is therefore very natural”, said the Director-General, “to join the efforts of our Organizations to achieve common aims in these fields”.
The Director-General recalled his meeting with President Medvedev during his official visit to Moscow in June 2008 (Flash Info ¹072-2008*) when the President had expressed his support for the initiative. UNESCO’s Executive Board approved the establishment of formal relations between the two organizations at its 180th session and authorized the Director-General to sign the Memorandum of Understanding with the Foundation.
Mr Matsuura thanked the Ambassadors present at the ceremony for their support for this initiative which he hoped would further develop UNESCO’s cooperation with the CIS countries. “The signing of the Memorandum”, said the Director-General “opened avenues for collaborative efforts between UNESCO and IFESCCO in various fields of common interest for the benefit of the CIS countries”. The Director-General suggested that, on the occasion of his next visit to Moscow scheduled for July 2009, he would visit the headquarters of IFESCCO to have a first review of the progress made in the implementation of the agreement.
After signing the Agreement, the Director-General hosted a luncheon for his guests to discuss concrete areas of cooperation in further detail.