Mr Chairperson of the Committee on Culture of the Council of the Federation, Mr President of the Russian Academy of Arts, Esteemed organizers of the exhibition project, Dear guests, Friends, I am sincerely delighted to have this opportunity to open the exhibition "Cultural Dialogue in the Academy Tradition". This initiative of the Russian Academy of Arts is a colourful illustration of the multifaceted nature of creative art in Russia, in which the potential for mutual enrichment of the cultures of peoples living in Russia has always been invested. Today, the Academy of Arts brings together recognized master artists from every region of Russia and many of the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Its role in the strengthening of cultural and creative relations between representatives of the various national traditions is beyond question. Its contribution to the development of the world's culture and civilization is substantial and clear. Since the time UNESCO was founded, and even more so since the foundation of the Russian Academy of Arts, the concept of peace has undergone considerable change. However, those profoundly moral values, with which the activities of both organizations are imbued, remain unchanged. Together, they promote the development of intercultural dialogue, and act to protect cultural diversity and cultural originality. This exhibition here at UNESCO Headquarters underscores once more the Organization's commitment to cultural integration at the international level. It constitutes a remarkable contribution to enriching the treasure-house of world art. In my capacity as Chairperson of the Executive Board of UNESCO, I should like to note that an event of this scale is a harmonious part of International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures, which is currently under way. UNESCO has been entrusted with the role of lead agency for the Year. This is no coincidence, as this House enjoys an outstanding reputation in building bridges between cultures. It has a long-standing reputation as an international platform for all forms of cultural self-expression, and its exhibition rooms are a forum for promoting world art. It is noteworthy that that servant of the muses, the current President of the Academy, Zurab Konstantinovich Tsereteli, also serves the ideals of UNESCO in his capacity as Goodwill Ambassador for the Organization. Zurab Tsereteli's vocation knows and recognizes no boundaries. He is the creator of monumental works located in many countries across the world, including France. These include monuments to Honoré de Balzac in Agde and John Paul II in Ploërmel, and the sculpture "The Birth of a New Man" in the UNESCO collection. For his outstanding services to national and world culture, Zurab Tsereteli has been awarded numerous Russian and international distinctions and prizes, such as the Picasso Gold Medal, UNESCO's highest award. He is particularly valued as an artist in France: he is a corresponding member of the French Academy of Fine Arts, Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters, Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honour, and holds the Honorary Cross of the Association of Veterans of the French Resistance. He was awarded the Vermeil medal, the highest distinction of Paris for his contribution to culture and art. Through this creative project, the Russian Academy of Arts offers a beautiful, wonderful gift to all visitors to the exhibition, to all those who genuinely value beauty, and to the broader public. It also gives additional impetus to the development and strengthening of cultural relations between the Russian Federation and UNESCO. May this project continue to flourish; I wish you all happy and positive emotions from the warm colours of life.