Brussels, - HE Dr. Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari, an advisor at the Emiri Diwan and Qatar's candidate for the position of UNESCO director general, has stressed the role of education in "raising awareness about peace and draining the springs of terrorism that emanate from the hotbeds of conflict and the impoverished regions that are overshadowed by ignorance." HE Dr. Al Kuwari made the remarks as he addressed representatives of the European Union at the European Parliament on Tuesday night in Brussels.
The Qatari candidate called for increasing the enrollment of children and women in schools, highlighting Qatar's support for major projects in this field, which includes the "Educate A Child" initiative that has helped to educate more than 10 million children around the world, in predominantly educationally deprived areas.
"If we consider that strengthening security in Europe and the world requires supporting people's choices to build peaceful, civil societies based upon shared knowledge, we definitely should seek to support education initiatives and strive to more greatly achieve gender equality in this important area," he said. "In this context, I would like to pay tribute to the women of the European parliament who are struggling to promote the presence of women within the political arena, and thus strengthening the position of women around the world." Dr. Al Kuwari said it is not possible to think about culture and education as a base of building peace in the minds "without preserving the common human achievements that are carried within the memory of humanities endeavors to achieve rapprochement and peaceful coexistence." "In this regard, I point to our world's diverse cultural heritage that is subjected to horrific terrorist attacks, especially in Afghanistan, Timbuktu, Libya, Iraq and Syria, by the uneducated advocates of religious intolerance and ignorance.
"I would also like to praise the outstanding efforts of Italy, which agreed with UNESCO on the establishment of a working group consisting of a variety of experts in cultural heritage. The purpose of this working group is to promote the global coalition "Unite 4 Heritage", which was approved at the annual meeting of the UNESCO in Bonn (Germany), as the protection of our human heritage, culture and history depends on a long-term strategy that builds on the advancement and development of previous global efforts.
"Furthermore, I would like to take this opportunity to acclaim the pilot project launched by the European Commission and the UNESCO to develop Cultural Routes that would benefit from the opportunity and ability of World Heritage sites to attract tourists and promote cultural institutions in Europe. This project has a positive impact on sustainable development and is destined to become a role model for development strategies in many regions of the world," the Qatari candidate said.
HE Dr. Al Kuwari added that being named Man of the Arab Heritage for 2016 makes him specially motivated to "promote UNESCO's leading role in the enactment of legislation that will criminalize individuals and groups who violate our unique global heritage." "Today, the UNESCO has laid the foundations for building peace around the world, a reputation that spans over 70 years. However, a new, innovative and all-encompassing approach that assimilates the ongoing global challenges is now required.
"I hereby run as a candidate for the position of Director-General for the upcoming phase because I believe, in my heart, that my years of experience in the diplomatic field, my country's constant support to UNESCO and my initiative program are all timely factors that can help me undertake the responsibility I am entrusted with. I am thoroughly aware of the difficulties that the organization is currently facing, namely in terms of financial resources, open governance and transparency.
"Therefore, I will pursue what the founding fathers and former Secretaries-General sought so that UNESCO can expand its reach outward, to every individual, and to every institution. As I truly believe in the fundamental role of civil, social and charitable organizations, I will seek to persuade them all to play an active role in empowering the UNESCO projects since our goals and objectives are one and the same.
"I will also endeavor to reinstate the United States' role as UNESCO truly needs everyone in the same manner that everyone truly needs the UNESCO. I also humbly rely on the EU's support for my candidacy as Europe will remain the hub of the UNESCO.
"With this in mind, our collective work is awaiting us. Let us all work together, side by side, embracing our shared history and culture while walking toward a more enlightened future, and Toward a New Momentum!" HE Dr. Al Kuwari said.
HE Dr. Al Kuwari reiterated his call for a "Global Day for Culture against Terrorism," stressing that the battle against terrorism is primarily cultural because terrorism resides in the human mind from which it must be cleansed. "Therefore, changing minds and convincing people of the right path is the main task that must be undertaken in order to drain the springs of terrorism." "In this context, I would like to pay tribute to the French President, Francois Hollande, who, after the Paris attacks, quickly addressed UNESCO, an institution that is considered as a haven for the good of humanity in the face of terrorism and extremist ideology, where he spoke of the good of mankind and commended culture as an impenetrable fortress that allows for peaceful coexistence and harmony amongst all cultures," he said addressing the EU representatives.
In his speech, the Qatari candidate touched on the deepest historical ties, common interests and continuous efforts to consolidate the high common values, which connect Qatar and the Arab and Islamic civilization on one hand with the European people on the other.
"These values are represented by the UNESCO, which are, specifically, tolerance, rejection of violence, security, stability and prosperity throughout the world," he said.
"As an intellectual and a citizen ingrained with the will and enthusiasm to achieve optimal shared human values, I undoubtedly perceive, alongside you, the same feelings in this place that have brought us together in order to embrace our common determination to achieve a fundamental objective that is peace in the world. It requires us to continually strive to overcome all disagreements and cultural differences that lead to the division of humanity.
"In this context, I highly regard the experience of the EU as an ultimate humanitarian, political and cultural experience, as it continually embraces many diverse cultures and languages despite the difficulties imposed by the recent challenges that it is facing at the regional and global levels.
"As I stand here with you, in Belgium, a country that has paid a heavy price in the resistance against terrorism, and in Brussels, a city that truly represents diversity and acceptance as it is the capital of a multilingual and multicultural continent. I would like to express my solidarity to the people of Europe in the ongoing fight against terrorism, and at the same time, highlight that terrorism is the enemy of all of humanity, it is transcontinental in scope and it poses an internationally destructive threat to all of us, which obliges us to unite together in order to fight it for the sake of our common human values," HE Dr. Al Kuwari said.
He highlighted his past ties with Europe where he previously worked as an ambassador in four European countries and carried their medals of honors. "I am also proud to say that I contributed along with Europe's intellectuals and politicians in bringing people closer together and building bridges between diverse civilizations over the past decades." "I am proud of the modest role I played in proposing the idea of establishing the Arab World Institute in Paris from its very inception in the eighties of the past century until it became the tangible reality that it is today. I always believed in cultural diplomacy as a soft power that strengthens the links between the East and the West and stimulates dialogue amongst people," said Dr. Al Kuwari.
The event took place in coordination between Qatar-EU Friendship Group within the European Parliament and Qatar's mission to the EU. HE Sheikh Ali bin Jassim Al-Thani, Qatar's ambassador to Belgium and head of the Qatari mission to the EU and NATO, was present along with a group of senior Belgian dignitaries, European commissioners, NATO officials, European parliamentarians, Arab and foreign ambassadors accredited to Brussels, and permanent representatives to the EU.
Source: Qatar News Agency