199TH SESSION OF THE EXECUTIVE BOARD OF UNESCO UNESCO HEADQUARTERS, PARIS
ADDRESS OF HIS EXCELLENCY, Mr Georges Veis
AMBASSADOR, PERMANENT DELEGATE OF GREECE TO UNESCO
Mr Chairperson of the Executive Board,
Mr President of the 36th Session of the General Conference,
Your Excellences, Dear Colleagues,
Greece under the context of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, supports programs for the reform in education, lifelong learning, and education for people in vulnerable situations. As a country on the frontlines of the current migration and refugee crisis we have already ensured the education of refugees (young and children) in cooperating with UNESCO’s educational sector. From the very first moment the Greek Ministry of Education set up a Committee, which registers refugee children, as well as refugees who can work in educational structures. Moreover, focusing on training, we emphasize on the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET), through the European Centre for the Development of Vocation Training based in Thessaloniki, Greece. Intercultural education is also a head theme of our educational policy, as we have students from different culture and socioeconomic environments, like immigrants, refugees or Romani Greeks. Our policy is to increase the education level in areas with low socioeconomic indicators.
Greece has been actively supporting the International Bureau of Education, in light of the implementation of its multi-annual program. We have chaired the Working Group for the reactivation of the International Conference of Education (ICE) – organized by IBE as the last ICE was held roughly ten years ago. We are looking for the organization of the ICE in 2018 in Switzerland, in case additional resources to the contribution of Switzerland can be found.
Student engagement is thought to be a sine qua non aspect of our mediated time (through especially digital games, digital storytelling, and social media), not only for digital natives, but for digital immigrants and refugees, as well. So what we propose as a member of the Governing Board of UNESCO’s Institute for Information Technologies in Education, is to employ a highly personalized educational way that stirs up engagement. Nowadays, students have grown up in a framework of constant connectivity and interactive culture and thus, they may have different attitudes and understandings of concepts such as creativity, collaboration, communication and sharing. This attitude should have arguably led to reform the institutions of learning and education.
Greece is working in close collaboration with other Member States, UNESCO Secretariat and the Global Geoparks Network to support the development of Geoparks worldwide. Recently the Hellenic National Geoparks Committee was formed in order to deal with Geopark issues at national level.
Although the question of Geoparks was solved in a most satisfactory way, the problem of water resources cannot be solved without taking into account the complex interrelationship of social, political and economic factors and we express our solidarity to Palau and all the SIDs for this issue.
Greece is very much aware of the problems. The newly appointed Category 2 Center for Water at the Aristotle University manages to achieve integration among its scientific teams and provide interdisciplinary research.
We live in an era where civilizations are destroyed and where cultural cleansing became a reality in many areas of the world. UNESCO gives its valuable support to implement all the cultural Conventions which in this time of crisis constitute our most powerful tool to fight against any barbaric act.
One of the “collateral damages” of the refugee crisis is that refugees are deprived of their right to “participate freely in the cultural life of their community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits”. (article 27, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN, 1948).
We should make every possible effort to facilitate the refugee’s access to their ICH, because it is also the means to strengthen the refugees’ communities as a marker of identity.
Greece actually assumes the Presidency of two Committees which are most relevant to the issue: the 1970 Committee against illicit trafficking and the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in the event of armed conflict. We urge all member states of the organization to ratify the Conventions; we urge them to include the provisions in their internal legislation. We would like to mention specifically how important it is for the fight against illicit trafficking the inclusion of the Operational Guidelines of the 1970 Convention in the national legislations: The establishment of an export certificate for every cultural object, the reversal of the burden of proof as well as other provisions of the Guidelines can drastically reduce illicit trafficking if applied by everyone. We would like to remind that the next informal meeting of the Committee will take place from 3 to 5 of June at Delphi Greece.
Furthermore, I would like to express our deep satisfaction for the liberation of the ancient city of Palmyra. Greece is ready to participate at the mission which will be organized by UNESCO for the evaluation of the situation, as soon as conditions will allow.
Last but not least in 2016 we celebrate the year of Aristotle… Let’s have in mind his remarkable contribution to find always a solution to a problem by choosing the right path, leaving behind pathos…