Correspondent's Choice

This story about the EU and UNESCO was published on 18th February 2010 by EurActiv.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova yesterday (17 February) broke new ground with the EU for enhanced cooperation with the United Nations’ educational, scientific and cultural organisation. Her compatriot Kristalina Georgieva, the EU commissioner for humanitarian aid, outlined joint action to help alleviate the Haiti crisis.

Bulgarian diplomat Irina Bokova, who recently became the first woman and first East European to lead UNESCO, held meetings with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Education, Culture and Youth Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Commissioner Maria Damanaki and Georgieva, with whom she said she had a long-standing friendship.

The dire humanitarian situation in earthquake-hit Haiti appeared to be the main topic of Bokova’s first visit to Brussels in her new capacity.

Speaking to the press, Bokova said UNESCO was active on the ground in Haiti, in particular in helping the country’s education ministry.

“In fact, the ministry of education of Haiti functions from the UNESCO office bureau in Port-au-Prince, because it was not damaged,” Bokova said.

Another goal was to quickly establish a committee for the preservation of cultural objects at a time when bulldozers had little concern for historical heritage, she explained.

Expressing her delight with the visit, Bokova’s host Georgieva said that in the field of humanitarian aid and crisis response, the Commission was eager to work hand-in-hand with the UN system.

Georgieva explained that the Commission was committed to covering educational aspects in responding to the Haiti crisis, as in her words, after securing food and shelter – even if that meant just temporary shelters or tents – the next priority must be to help children continue their education.

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