On October 16 2007, the president of Bulgaria, Georgi Parvanov, addressed a rousing plea for cultural diversity and intercultural understanding at the opening of the 34th session of UNESCO's General Conference.
According to the UNESCO press release issued on the occasion of the speech to the representatives of UNESCO Member States gathered in Paris until November 3, “the President stressed the importance of the Organization's assistance in education and heritage, as both play an important role in intercultural dialogue.”
“It is our strong conviction that culture is a vehicle of understanding rather than discord, that culture and solidarity are the preconditions to the construction of just and lasting peace,” the president declared. Speaking of the summits of heads of state and government of South-East Europe organized under the aegis of UNESCO in Ohrid in 2003, Tirana 2004, Varna 2005, Opatija 2006 and Bucharest 2007, President Parvanov pledged to pursue these meetings. “We, the presidents of southeast Europe have become convinced that the future of the region is tied to our common European future and to the future of humanity […] we agreed about the existence of problems inherited from the past and about our duty to overcome them. But what is most important is that we have common objectives in active cooperation, security and stability, economic prosperity and better communication.”
The President said “education in cultural and historic heritage is of primordial importance to all of us who want to be the citizens of a world of respect and protection of cultures. Heritage education means an education in interethnic, interfaith and intercultural tolerance.” In this perspective, President Parvanov went on to highlight his country's commitment to support the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and recalled that the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage will hold its next extraordinary session in Bulgaria (February 2008).
The President also announced that his country would create a regional centre for the safeguarding of intangible heritage to be placed under the aegis of UNESCO.