Vienna, 19 December 2006 - "The core of the Convention is the international law safeguard that every state has the right to its own cultural policy," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik on the occasion of yesterday’s formal presentation of the Austrian ratification instrument pertaining to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions to the Director-General of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura. "National cultural policy and public cultural promotion are thus accorded new legitimacy," added the Foreign Minister.
According to this Convention every state has the right to take legal and financial measures to protect the diversity of cultural expressions on its territory. In this way it becomes possible to bring cultural policy objectives in line with international trade agreements, such as the General Agreement on Trade in Services.
"The promotion and protection of cultural diversity is of great concern to Austria as a recognised nation of culture. In the modern world in which physical borders are becoming more and more invisible, it is important for a country to maintain its cultural identity and to experience the diversity of cultures as a strength and an enrichment," said Plassnik. In this process, she continued, cultural diversity also involved respect for other cultures, which was another indispensable precondition for the successful dialogue between cultures and religions that constituted a priority focus of Austria’s foreign policy.
The Convention had been adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 20 October 2005 by a large majority. Austria is among its strongest advocates and will actively contribute to its implementation. At the formal deposition ceremony in Paris on 18 December as many as thirty national ratification instruments were deposited, which ensures that the Convention will enter into force by the end of March 2007.
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