14 April 2015

Statement delivered by Eleonora Mitrofanova, Permanent Delegate of Russia to UNESCO, during the Plenary Debate of the 196th Executive Board Paris, 14 April 2015

Dear Chairperson of the Executive Board,

Dear Chairperson the General Conference,

Dear Director-General,

Ladies and gentlemen,


Our session is being held on the eve of a very important event which has left a great imprint on a modern history of mankind – in a month we will be celebrating 70th anniversary of the end of the most bloody and awful war. In this regard we couldn’t but remember what the fascism had done to the world, how many lives that terrible war has taken away. About 73 million people were killed in that war. The Soviet Union lost one in ten citizens, some regions – one of third.

Only think about these numbers! Each of them contains someone’s life, plans, happiness, broken dreams and hopes.

I’m strictly convinced that UNESCO cannot and must not keep aloof from celebrating the great Victory.

Russian delegation suggests to make a joint statement on this issue like our colleagues at UN and at other international organizations have done (The text of proposed document will be submitted for your consideration).

Our organization – UNESCO – was established 70 years ago on the traces of that terrible tragedy. The main goal which its creators kept in mind is to secure the irreversibility of the humanization of our society. That time as well as now there is an acute need in a dialogue platform to comprehend the key trends of the global development. It is absolutely clear that today the world is going through a very difficult period of instability in politics, economy and international relations. We are witnessing how social texture of the entire societies and communities is being destroyed by violence, religious and ethnic hatred endangering their existence.

We welcome the statement adopted upon an initiative of Russia, Lebanon and Vatican at the 28th session of UN Human Rights Council “Supporting the Human Rights of Christians and Other Communities, particularly in the Middle East”. The problem of persecution of the Christians in the Middle East region for the first time found its way in high level international discussions. We think that this theme along with other religious phobias should continue to be developed on UNESCO platform as well, primarily in the framework of the UNESCO Director-General’s High Panel on Peace and Dialogue among Cultures.

Dear colleagues,

We welcome the efforts made by the Director-General to ensure initiative and effective participation in preparation of the post-2015 development agenda, which remains the priority of UNESCO activity. It is very important in the context of growing tension in the world and big amount of conflicts to work out the education concept in the field of global citizenship.

By such approach we say that education takes on responsibilities for a human being in all aspects and not only for a certain number of know-how and skills. And a super-task is in formation of individualities. Personalities who can live in unity with themselves and the world.

Yet we shouldn’t forget that only one third of countries have achieved all the goals of Education for all program. 58 million children still don’t go to elementary school for one reason or another and almost as many don’t attend secondary school. One third of these children are in conflict zones. To solve these problems international society will have to work its long and difficult way up.

We welcome the effort of the Director General on implementation of the UN Security Council resolution 2199 and we consider the draft resolution on the protection of cultural property in conflict zones initiated by Italy and Spain very up to date.

Safety of journalists and fight with impunity of crimes against them is a very important theme. It is journalists who honestly and fairly fulfil their professional duty become more often the objects of uncovered pressure and even armed attacks by those who are against their point of view. This problem is more acute in conflict zones. We support the resolution proposed by Sweden.

Now about Crimea. I won’t be fixing upon the fact that above-mentioned accusations are nonobjective. I recall you that Crimea is not only a territory but above all – people who made their legitimate choice in favor of rejoining Russia by using their right to self-determination according to article 1 of UN Charter.

It is for that reason the latest polls in Crimea held by Ukrainian agency GFK Ukraine and Forbs magazine showed that the overwhelming majority – more than 80% - supports the return to Russia and think that their life has been improved after that.

As for the fringe concerns about Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians I can assure you that all legal standards of the Russian Federation as well as its international commitments extend to them completely. They have all opportunities to secure their rights including through judicial authorities. Every piece of information about violations of their rights is being checked thoroughly. Detailed information on Crimea will be distributed among the Member-States in the afternoon.

Thank you for your attention.