Athens, 12 November 2021
Heads of State and Government and an impressive list of important personalities from around the world celebrated UNESCO’s 75th Anniversary at a special ceremony, on Friday, November 12th, 2021, at the Organization’s headquarters in Paris.
UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis attended this special ceremony which had a special symbolism as it takes place in pandemic conditions, sending a strong message of global unity.
Mrs. Vardinoyannis, upon her arrival, stated that: “The 75th Anniversary of UNESCO is a major milestone in the history of the Organization. The pandemic and great global challenges, such as climate change, make UNESCO’s mission and role more relevant than ever. From the bottom of my heart I hope that we will all send a strong message of peace, unity and global solidarityfrom Paris, on the occasion of this important anniversary”.
During the ceremony, special mention was made of the action and support of Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis and her homonymous Foundation to UNESCO through her role as a Goodwill Ambassador for more than 20 years.
H.E. the Greek Prime Minister Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who arrived at UNESCO accompanied by his wife Mrs. Mareva Grabovski – Mitsotakis, attended the event. The Greek Prime Minister was welcomed by Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, the Chief of the Office of the Director-General of UNESCO Mr. Nikolas Kassianidis and the Ambassador of Greece to UNESCO Mrs. Maria Diamantopoulou.
During the ceremony, the Greek Prime Minister raised the issue of the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to their homeland, Greece, formally asking Great Britain to start a “bona fide” dialogue with Greece, stating that: “The United Kingdom should enter into a “bona fide” dialogue with Greece. And I ask it to do it. Besides, this year marks the 200th Anniversary of the beginning of the Fight for the Independence of Greece. There could not have been a better timing than this for the return of the missing parts and the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, at the place where they were born, Greece”.
UNESCO Director-General Mrs. Audrey Azoulay stressed in her closing remarks that “UNESCO offers a unique platform for dialogue and its dynamics come from the richness of the voices of civil society”.
The ceremony was honored by the presence of more than 28 Heads of State who spoke about the important mission of UNESCO over time, among them H.E. the President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Nikos Anastasiadis, accompanied by his wife Mrs. Andri Anastasiadis, H.E. the President of Egypt Mr. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, H.E. the Prime Minister of France Mr. Jean Castex, H.M. King Norodom Sihamoniof Cambodia, H.E. the Prime Minister of Spain Mr. Pedro Sanchez, H.E. the President of Namibia Mr. Hage Geingob, H.E. the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Bo Shasa, H.E. the Prime Minister of Serbia Ms. Ana Brnabić, H.E. the President of the Republic of Botswana Mr. Mokgweetsi Masisi, H.E. the President of Liberia Mr. George Weah, H.E. the President of Nigeria Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, H.E. the President of the Republic of Moldova Ms Maia Sandu, H.E. the President of Gabon Mr. Ali Bongo Ondimba, H.E. the President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Ando, H.E. the President of Iceland Mr. Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, H.E. the President of Slovenia Mr. Borut Pahor, H.E. the Prime Minister of Andorra Mr. Xavier Espot Zamora, H.E. the President of Georgia Ms Salome Zourabichvili, H.E. the President of Estonia Mr. Alar Karis, and many other international personalities such as the former Director-General of UNESCO Mrs. Irina Bokova, the Goodwill Ambassadors Mr. Jean Michel Jarre and Mrs. Hedva Ser, and many others.
UN Secretary General Mr. Antonio Guterres and His Holiness Pope Francis addressed the event with video messages.
The opening speech of the event was addressed by the UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliationand famous Hollywood actor Forest Whitaker, while famous artists from around the world gave a tone of multiculturalism by performing on stage. Specifically, the ceremony was attended by: Renaud Capucon, one of the world’s greatest violinists, Guillaume Bellom, international prize-winning classical pianist, Farrah El Dibany, an Egyptian-born opera singer, Issa Murad & Joussour, Juan Luis Guerra, Angelique Kidjo, four-time Grammy Award winner from Benin, Lang Lang, Chinese pianist, the fabulous music duo Ray Lema & Laurent de Wilde, internationally renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Aryana Sayeed, Afghan singer and women’s rights activist.
The ceremony ended with the illumination of the Eiffel Tower with the UNESCO 75 logo and a commemorative photo of the Heads of State with the Director General Mrs. Audrey Azoulay in front of the Organization’sbuilding.