We are holding our regular general meeting of the Commission for UNESCO. The year under review has been and remains difficult, including for international cooperation in the UNESCO areas – education, science, culture, sports and communications.
The collective West has launched an unprecedented information and propaganda campaign as part of its hybrid war against our country. Unfriendly countries were pushing a confrontation agenda in UNESCO against all principles underlying this organisation. UNESCO’s programme activities and related convention mechanisms were politicised and artificially oriented to serving the opportunistic interests of the Kiev regime. Russophobia reached its peak when the UNESCO Executive Board rejected our proposal to declare June 6 (Alexander Pushkin’s birthday) World Day of the Russian Language. This move refuted the claims that the West was not campaigning for the cancellation of all things Russian in response to the crisis in Ukraine and proved the opposite.
We are seriously concerned over the position taken by the UNESCO Secretariat that began to obediently follow all Western instructions in violation of the principle of impartiality and, therefore, the UNESCO Charter. During this year, UNESCO did not sponsor any undertaking in Russia. All Russian applications for new chairs were rejected. The Secretariat deliberately impeded Russia-supported scientific projects and blocked targeted volunteer contributions, thereby directly harming the interests of the developing nations to whom these contributions mattered.
The hypocrisy culminated in UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay refusing to denounce the vicious murder of our journalist Darya Dugina by radical Ukrainian nationalists. She did this in defiance of the Secretariat’s authority and practice as regards similar tragic incidents in the past.
It would be wrong to say that this position of the Secretariat took shape only this year, in the course of the special military operation. For many years, the Director-General and her staff did not react in any way to the years-long infringements on the Russian language in Ukraine and the Baltics and the shameful practice of demolishing monuments to the defeaters of Nazism in the EU countries.
Despite its best efforts, the West did not manage to isolate or cancel Russia in UNESCO. The overwhelming majority of its member-states refused to take part in anti-Russia games. Eventually, this Western policy did damage to UNESCO itself and the ideals it promoted. An illustrative example is its decision to postpone the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee to 2023 contrary to the positions and interests of the developing nations.
In response to this hysteria, we adhered to a policy of strictly professional work in UNESCO and the promotion of a unifying agenda in its framework. This position allowed us to achieve practical results.
Thus, in early December, St Petersburg and Kazan held with great success an International Forum timed to the 50th anniversary of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. It gathered delegations from 56 countries of the CIS, Asia, Africa and Latin America, including at the ministerial level. This forum became the biggest and most representative international event of the anniversary year in the convention’s framework.
I would like to thank Minister of Culture Olga Lyubimova for attending this forum. One of its results was the signing of a Memorandum Of Understanding in Culture and Arts with the Syrian Arab Republic. I’d like to convey special gratitude to the organisers of the forum – the leaders of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustan Minnikhanov and Mintimer Shaimiyev who we are very happy to see here in good health. I’d also like to thank Rector of St Petersburg Mining University Vladimir Litvinenko for contributing to the success of this event.
Speaking about other important events of the year, I’d like to mention the participation of a delegation headed by First Deputy Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation Sergey Obryvalin in the World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development – MONDIACULT 2022 in Mexico City last September, and a presentation by the Head of the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs Igor Barinov at the opening of the 2022-2032 International Decade of Indigenous Languages that took place in the UNESCO Headquarters last week.
I’d also like to note the work of Minister of Education Sergey Kravtsov at the World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education in Tashkent last November; the work of the Minister of Sports Oleg Matytsin at the eighth session of the Conference of Parties to the International Conference against Doping in Sport; and finally the efforts of the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia on ratifying the Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education.
Despite the West’s course of action in UNESCO, we managed to achieve the adoption of a decision on the prospects of developing the UNITWIN programme of inter-university cooperation. We are now working towards the establishment of a corresponding international committee based on the achieved results. Our other priorities include an event for the 60th anniversary of the UNESCO Associated Schools Network under the auspices of the National Coordination Centre headed by Nella Pruss.
Our specialists are contributing to the work of the Executive Board of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, the implementation of the tsunami early warning programme, the International Hydrological Programme of UNESCO and events of the Decade of Ocean Science.
We are preparing for two award ceremonies of the UNESCO-Russia International Mendeleev Prize for this and next year.
UNESCO’s agreement with FosAgro was resumed on the Green Chemistry for Life grant programme. A UNESCO-L’Oreal Rising Talents scholarship was awarded this year to Senior Research Associate of the RAS Applied Physics Institute Darya Smirnova.
A few words about our plans for the future. We would consider it useful for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) to take part in the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme. We would advise them to pay more attention to the research on neuroethics and artificial intelligence.
It took many years to prepare a ten-volume Library of Bioethics under the guidance of Full Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Chuchaluin. Its publication was completed in the past year. This is a tremendous achievement and our contribution to world culture.
Regulation of digital platforms and protection of the freedom of the press are sensitive aspects of the UNESCO activities. This is particularly topical now that the West is pursuing a policy of eliminating any dissent in the media. One of our major tasks is the rational use of our contribution to the International Programme for the Development of Communications (IPDC) to support media projects in the developing nations. We hope for the assistance from the professional community of journalists.
We would like to note the active participation of our regions in UNESCO projects. I have already talked about the contribution of Tatarstan and St Petersburg. Now I’d like to mention Ulyanovsk, the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area-Yugra, Moscow, and the Republic of Altai, to name a few. I don’t want to offend anyone. I just mentioned those that took part in special events this year.
In 2023, we plan to celebrate the anniversaries of drama writer Alexander Ostrovsky, composer Sergey Rachmaninoff and opera singer Feodor Chaliapin. We suggested including the 300th anniversary of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the 500th anniversary of the Novodevichy Convent in the UNESCO Calendar of Memorable Dates.
All these projects are just a small part of our joint work in UNESCO. I appreciate the cooperation of all federal and regional structures, public organisations and MPs. We look forward to continuing this work.
As I have already mentioned, the International Forum timed to the 50th anniversary of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in St Petersburg and Kazan is a central event of 2022.