21 April 2011

Address by H. E. Mrs Eleonora Valentinovna Mitrofanova, Chairperson of the Executive Board of UNESCO, Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO


Dear Friends, I am glad to welcome you all to this celebration event in this main UNESCO conference room. These days many countries are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s space flight, which lastingly changed the course of human development. In Russia, every year the 12th of April is observed as Cosmonautics Day. This year, this date is becoming a universally recognized anniversary by UN – the International Day of Human Space Flight. UNESCO, which for the last 50 years has been both an effective international forum for science and education and a platform for all forms of cultural expression, also took part in this global project. Throughout the day, within the walls of UNESCO House, various activities have been organized dedicated to the 50th anniversary. We have thus been able to bathe in the atmosphere of those unique historical days, when humankind was rejoicing of that momentous leap into the new interplanetary milieu, meet those who placed their knowledge and experience in the service of the development of space science and technologies. The wide-ranging programme of the day comprised the International Forum on the Peaceful Use of Outer Space for Science, Education and Culture; an exhibition of models, photographs and video footage provided by the Russian and European Space Agencies, NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute; and the award ceremony for the winners of the World Space “Star Relay” Olympiad launched by the Russian Federal Agency Rossotrudnichestvo. In a few moments, “Astro Ballet”, an outstanding performance by an international cast from the Russian Federation, the United States of America, China, Ukraine and Mongolia will transport us into the magical, melodious world of outer space. It crowns a series of scientific and cultural events held today at UNESCO Headquarters to mark the anniversary, in which the famous cosmonauts and astronauts, scientists and experts, sitting here in this room, have been directly involved. As Chairperson of the Executive Board of UNESCO and Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation, it is a source of great pride and pleasure to me to note that our Organization has repeatedly and rightly welcomed within these walls and on this podium many of those who have flown in space, starting with my compatriot Yuri Gagarin. And of course as a woman, I am happy to see again with us today the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova. Let us warmly welcome her together. Ladies and Gentlemen, In 1965, cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov, the first person in history to walk in outer space, described the sensation in the UNESCO Courier with these words: “Everything about me looked like a scene from a science fiction film. The only thing missing was the electronic music.” In just a few minutes, this cosmonaut’s wishes will come true before our eyes, and we shall experience the musical harmony of space. Everyone knows that music, like dance, is a universal language that knows no religious, social, gender or other barriers, and is a perfect aid in developing and strengthening the intercultural dialogue that UNESCO values so highly. During the gala concert, we shall transcend the barriers of weightlessness and movement in space through the alchemy of music and ballet in an original piece of choreography set to an original score, as string melodies blend with the sounds of the cosmos in the performance by the artists of “Astro Ballet”, the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and folk instrumentalists. This multimedia project is a striking expression of close and fruitful collaboration among artists, sponsors, organizers and representatives of different nations devoted to a common task in furtherance of the ideals of peace, harmony and love. Moreover, without multilateral international cooperation, it is impossible to conduct further research and use outer space for peaceful purposes and thereby safeguard the well-being of present and future generations on our Planet. Every person sitting in this room is an important link in the chain of understanding space since everyone on Earth holds responsibility for spreading knowledge of space achievements in a meaningful way in order to promote the sustainable development of humankind as a whole. In conclusion, I would like to thank all those who took part in the organisation of today’s gala-concert and all other events, and first of all my colleagues the Permanent Delegates to UNESCO of the USA, China, France, Germany, Ukraine and Mongolia. I am also grateful to the Russian Federal Agencies Roscosmos and Rossotrudnichestvo, the International Association Melodies for Dialogue among Civilisations, the UNESCO Sector of Natural Sciences and the Bureau of Strategic Planning, and co-owners of the space materials-related photo exhibition Viktor Martin-Malburet and Felix Wincler. My special thanks go to all sponsors of this project, to Mr Ara Abramyan, UNESCO Good Will Ambassador, to Access Industries Company and many others. I wish you an enjoyable evening and thank you for your attention.