Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is interviewed with Xinhua in Paris, capital of France, on April 18, 2017. China has once again shown strong commitment to promoting cultural dialogues and diversity through its Belt and Road Initiative, said Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) here on Wednesday. [Xinhua/Chen Yichen]
China has once again showed strong commitment to promoting cultural dialogues and diversity through its Belt and Road Initiative, said Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) here on Wednesday.
In an interview with Chinese media, Bokova described the Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinpingin 2013, as a "fascinating project", stressing that the UN agency commends and supports this initiative.
The initiative, having already won the support of over 100 countries and international organizations, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes, which were inscribed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 2015.
This goal coincides with that of the UNESCO's own Silk Road Project launched in 1988, which is to promote intercultural dialogues and establish links between different cities and civilizations along the historic trade routes, so as to achieve prosperity and harmony, Bokova told reporters.
The UNESCO chief will attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, scheduled for mid-May, which will bring together at least 28 heads of state and government and is expected to yield major outcomes including the signing of cooperative documents between China and around 40 countries and international organizations.
"I'm more than convinced that economic prosperity only cannot bring happiness, sustainability and harmony in societies. We need also the soft power; we need to develop education; we need to develop intercultural dialogues; we need to develop understandings thus bring more social inclusion and equity in societies, and this is where UNESCO brings our contribution," said Bokova.
Recalling her own visits to many historic sites along the Silk Road, Bokova said she has always been amazed by how intercultural dialogues were developed over 2,000 years ago.
"This is something that we should encourage nowadays if we want to see more prosperity, more connectivity, and more mutual understanding among the peoples, which in my view will accompany trade, investment and economic prosperity," she said.
Bokova said she was particularly impressed by the speech by President Xi on his visit to UNESCO Paris headquarters in March 2014, in which the President underlined the importance of the Silk Road and intercultural dialogues, a message that remains highly relevant today.
"It is very relevant because unfortunately we see extremism, we see destruction; we see a different vision of the world. This is why our cooperation with China is so important, and this is why the Belt and Road Initiative is so important," she explained.
She cited examples of the atrocious destructions of the Bamiyan Buddha in Afghanistan in 2001 and the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria earlier this year.
"The extremists destroyed these heritages because they rejected the same view about diversity in the world," she said. "We should educate young people about diversity. We have to prevent violent extremism through supporting heritage, through supporting diversity."
On cooperation between China and UNESCO, Bokova said that the relationship has developed substantially. China already boasts 50 inscribed World Heritages, and has co-organized successful events on creativity and education with the UN agency.
"China's also supporting some of our projects in the least-developed parts of the world, including in Pakistan, in Afghanistan and in western Africa. I think all these bring a lot of substance, and a lot of very concrete examples of how jointly we can change the world for the better," she added.
The UNESCO chief also thanked China for backing the resolution adopted on March 24 by the UN Security Council on protecting cultural heritages amid conflicts, calling it a "landmark decision" that puts the importance of cultural heritages on the global political agenda.
Towards the end of the interview, Bokova cited a Chinese proverb to depict her expectation for the Belt and Road Initiative.
"One tree does not make a forest, and one string does not make music. The moral is that we need a broad international cooperation to bring prosperity to the world," she said.
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