Vienna, 16 November 2006 - "For 60 years now, UNESCO (the United Nations Organization for Education, Science, Culture and Communication) has been an important hub in the worldwide efforts to safeguard peace and dialogue through cooperation in the fields of education, science and culture," said State Secretary Hans Winkler today on the occasion of a ceremony held in Parliament to mark UNESCO’s 60th anniversary.
"Current developments in the world constitute new challenges for the multilateral system as well as for UNESCO. In addition to today’s multilateral efforts such as the achievement of global disarmament, the community of states is facing new tasks such as the safeguarding and intensification of the willingness for dialogue and mutual understanding to avoid conflicts. Respect for and acceptance of the other in practice is the only way to prevent conflicts erupting," emphasised Winkler.
On account of its varied programmes in the fields of education, culture and communication, UNESCO constitutes an important platform for critical dialogue. "As a committed member of the international community of states and a member of UNESCO, Austria will also continue its tradition of supporting the dialogue between cultures and religions in a consistent manner. Confidence-building can only be achieved through peaceful cooperation," stated Winkler, going on to recall numerous important Austrian initiatives in this context. A follow-up to the international conference "Islam in a pluralistic world", for instance, is planned for next year. At this conference, the dialogue of cultures and religions will be further developed, while the role of women in conflict situations and in the reconstruction of societies will be at the centre of discussions. In this connection Winkler emphasised that UNESCO was the organisation that placed particular emphasis on cooperating with civil society to achieve its objectives.
"New approaches for preserving and promoting peace should be sounded out and carefully implemented. On account of its specific mandate UNESCO is particularly capable of playing an active role in the dialogue of civilisations, cultures and religions and exerting a positive influence on developments. A peaceful future is in the interests of us all. Austria will continue to undertake all efforts to ensure that UNESCO can fulfill its task with vision and strength in the future as well," concluded the State Secretary.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
State Secretary’s Office
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