Your Excellency Madame Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning. It gives me great pleasure to have an opportunity of visiting the UNESCO headquarters. Let me begin by offering Madame Bokova my heartfelt congratulations on her re-election as the Director-General of the Organization and paying my sincere tribute to UNESCO for the extraordinary contribution it has made for greater exchanges and mutual learning among human civilizations.
UNESCO was born 69 years ago when the smoke of the World War against Fascism had barely dissipated. The grisly horror of war forced mankind once again to reflect on the nature of war and peace. Throughout the centuries, people have yearned for lasting peace, but war, like a haunting ghost, has been accompanying the journey of human progress every step of the way. As we speak, many children on this planet are subjected to the horror of armed conflicts. We must do our utmost to keep war as far away as possible from mankind so that children across the world can grow up happily under the sunshine of peace.
The stone wall at the entrance to the UNESCO headquarters carries the inscription of one single message in several languages: Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.