The 4th All-Russia Congress of UNESCO chairs was held in Kazan on March 6–7, 2019. At the Congress, participants took stock of the University Twinning and Networking Program (UNITWIN) in Russia and its past four years of operation. They also established the principles and direction of future activities.
Participants at the Congress had the opportunity to learn about the best practices of the UNESCO Chairs in Russia. In addition, a regular meeting of the Coordinating Committee of UNESCO Chairs was held as part of the Congress, during which the Committee members discussed the most pressing issues of the Russian network and considered proposals for the creation of new UNESCO Chairs in our country. The Congress was organized by the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO, the Government of the Republic of Tatarstan, the Republican Fund “Revival”, and the University of Management “TISBI” in Kazan.
The working sessions of the Congress featured UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, who was in Russia on an official visit; Mintimer Shaimiev, the first president of Tatarstan; Mikhail Fedotov, Chairman of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights; Grigory Ordzhonikidze, Secretary-General of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO; Alexander Kuznetsov, the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to UNESCO; Mechtild Rossler, Director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre; Rafis Burganov, Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Tatarstan, and other officials.
Participants of the Congress also included heads of UNESCO departments, General Secretaries of National Commissions for UNESCO, and rectors of leading Russian universities, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, and the Russian Federation Commission for UNESCO.
In his welcoming address, Mintimer Shaimiev noted that dialogue regarding issues of education, science, and culture between UNESCO and the Republic of Tatarstan has been successful. New cooperative projects are emerging, joint educational and cultural events are being carried out, and a celebration of Tatarstan even took place in the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. “It is with special gratitude that I would like to mention the missions of the advisory bodies of ICOMOS and ICCROM. When we worked on the restoration of the ancient cities of Bolgar and Sviyazhsk, their recommendations and expert opinions contributed to the recognition of the outstanding universal value of our historical and cultural monuments and their inclusion in the World Heritage List.” said the State Counselor. He expressed confidence that the Congress of UNESCO Chairs would become an effective platform for the exchange of experience in the field of education.
Audrey Azoulay spoke about the foundation of the organization, its mission, and certain aspects of UNESCO’s operations related to the promotion of education, culture, and communication, noting that nowadays all projects require a multidisciplinary approach and the contribution of many researchers. The Director-General then stated that it was only logical for her to visit Tatarstan, given their active involvement in UNESCO operations. “Tatarstan is the center of many different religions, cultures, and traditions, and has outstanding experience in successful intercultural communication. This has unique value in a world that is still searching for a way to live together. Their philosophy is fully in line with the dialogue that is so professionally conducted between the Republic of Tatarstan and the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The Republic has warmly welcomed us and the representatives of UNESCO Chairs, and supports the work that they do.” Audrey Azoulay said, describing her experience.