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The Republic Which Is Opened to the World (Rustem Hamitov’s interview to the magazine “The Herald of UNESCO”)

The 21st number of “Herald of Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO”, devoted to 60th anniversary of entry of USSR/Russia intoUNESCO, has published the interview of Rustem Khamitov, the Head of the Bashkortostan, the member of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO.

-How do you estimate UNESCO’s role in modern world formation?

-The world needs spiritual, moral and cultural “shield”. In this sense it is difficult to overestimate the role of UNESCO, which promotes ideas of humanism, peace, spiritual wealth and historical memory. To my mind, it is the main mission of this organization.

UNESCO plays one of the significative roles in the preservation of human’s precious natural and cultural heritage. Last year the great presentation of Bashkortostan under the “Unity in Diversity” slogan was held in the UNESCO main office in Paris. There are 140 nationalities in our republic, in schools students are taught on 6 languages and study 14 languages. Perhaps, it is the reason why philosophy of UNESCO grows here. On this exhibition we showed how the ideas of national languages and cultures development and preservation are realized on the example of certain region. I highly estimate and share these messages of UNESCO.

It is obvious, that the world is not like it was 10-20 years ago or half a century ago. It changes swiftly with people and society. And it is difficult to say if it is good or bad. This is very philosophical, subjective question.

Nowadays, people sometimes forget about true values, don’t pay enough attention to them. Bashkortostan is the developed industrial region with centers of refining, petrochemical, engineering industries. At the same time we can’t forget about our nonmaterial wealth. Mentally unripe and morally miserable society can’t develop economy. Taking the thing in the global sense, humanity is connected not by currency, oil prices or Dow Jones average, but by peace, philanthropy, knowledge and all human values, which UNESCO promotes. These values keep the unity; that is why the majority of people treasure them.

- What projects and programs of UNESCO you consider more important for Russia? In what sphere was the main success for the country and civilization achieved?

I speak about certain 15-years experience of cooperation of our republic with UNESCO. The last year presentation of Bashkortostan in the UNESCO main office attracted the interest of local Paris people, descendants of Russian immigrants, diplomats and businessmen. A lot of warm words and good reviews were said. We showed our achievements, held round tables. We discussed a lot of questions: education programs, protection of biosphere reserves, and the preservation of language, culture and others. We also signed a communiqué, which was a sign of a new milestone in the history of partnership with UNESCO. The concert of our art masters created a furor, and the State Academic Folk Dance Ensemble Faizi Gaskarov received the prestigious UNESCO award, Gold Medal of the "Five Continents" and the "Ambassador of Peace" diploma for the high mastery.

At the same time we conducted very warm, constructive talks with Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General. We hope that Ms. Bokova will accept our invitation to visit Bashkortostan. Irina Bokova, the professional diplomat and highly intelligent woman, knowing Russian culture very well, showed not a "diplomatic" interest to our republic, but a sincere desire to understand the nature of the original Bashkir culture. And this attitude of a person, who holds a high position in UNESCO, fully reflects the ideology of the organization. It is very important for us, especially the support of the idea to enter the site of natural and cultural heritage "Bashkir Ural" into the UNESCO World Heritage List. This site includes the Shulgan-Tash cave, the "Ural-batır" epic poem and other cultural monuments. We are proud that the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of the same name was created in the Republic. It is a very important achievement for us. This project was appreciated by Munir Bushenaki, Kisher Rao, Franchesko Bandarin who are the UNESCO experts and specialists in the preservation of the World Heritage.

Putting forward the initiative on the recognition of our projects at the international level, we advance in the preservation of the cultural, natural and ethnic heritage. For example, the "Ural-Batir" epic poem was translated from Bashkir to English, French, German and other languages. And now it sounds in modern way and promotes our culture in global multicultural space.

Of course, I would define the education projects as separate and very important line. More than 100 schools of our Republic participate in various UNESCO programs. Bashkortostan is involved in the "National education: from infancy to college" and "Inclusive Education" projects; we develop the network of UNESCO Associated schools, UNESCO Chairs and Centers. In 2012 we opened UNEVOC center of vocational education in Ufa, one of the few in the country. So UNESCO has many friends and companions in the Republic.

I visited these institutions many times and met with teachers and students. They are full of enthusiasm for these projects; they are full of strength and energy. And it is easy to understand: thanks to UNESCO they have reached a very new level of communication in their professional environment, i.e. international level.

UNESCO projects are successfully realized across the Republic. Let me cite the last year project as an example; it was realized in the Uchalinsky District of Bashkir Trans-Urals.  Experts of Germany special institutions shared their experience with our teachers as part of the "Inclusive education" program. It was a pleasant discovery for me that UNESCO projects were realized both in small towns and in rural areas, and in different countries, regions, capitals. After these warm meetings in Uchaly, our teachers, parents, and children themselves acquired modern worldwide views on accessibility of education.

- To what ideas and programs UNESCO need to pay attention?

- Speaking about the extension of cooperation with UNESCO, I would focus not so much on increase of the number of programs, as on the involvement of more and more people into current projects ranging from quizzes, videoconferences, marathons, foreign internships to global programs like the creation of biosphere reserves and natural parks. Perfection has no limits; so it is need to work at cultural, educational and scientific aspects of UNESCO.

And we need to involve our youth in this work. If people touch with the world standards of tolerance, humanity, peace-building from childhood, people will hardly support the ideology of society destruction in adult life and never take up arms for the instability. The principles of peace are created not so much by calls as by participation in specific good deeds.


"The Herald of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO" is the official publication of UNESCO and is distributed in 195 member countries of this international organization.

UNESCO is the Specialized Agency of UNO on Education, Science and Culture. Its main activities are education, natural and social sciences and the Arts, culture, communication and information.

The main UNESCO programs and projects, realized in Bashkortostan, are the UNESCO Associated Schools Project, the World Heritage Program, the Man and the Biosphere Program (World Network of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves), the UNITWIN Program. The republic is also realizing some other important UNESCO projects and programs: the "Ufa: UNESCO creative city", "Dialogue of Cultures of the World Nations", "Information for All", "Memory of the World", "Inclusive Education", as well as a number of youth and tourist initiatives like familiarization with the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Russia and Abroad, the motivation and assistance in the study of native languages i.e. the unique cultural heritage of the world nations and foreign languages in the interest of development of the international dialogue and cooperation.

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