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 » UNESCO Director-General attends State funeral of President Shimon Peres
30.09.2016 - ODG

UNESCO Director-General attends State funeral of President Shimon Peres


September 30, 2016 - The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, joined world leaders and high level authorities of Israel to pay a last tribute to Mr Shimon Peres, the ninth President of Israel.

On Friday morning at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, Ms Bokova, joined world leaders from over 70 countries, including Mr Barack Obama, President of the United States, Mr François Hollande, President of the Republic of France, Mr Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, Prince Charles, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico, King Felipe VI of Spain, and the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Former President of the United States Bill Clinton, and former Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom Tony Blair and David Cameron, as well as numerous other high level dignitaries, were also present to pay their last respects to Shimon Peres. The Director-General was accompanied by H.E. Mr Carmel Shama-Hacohen, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Israel to UNESCO during her visit.

“Shimon Peres leaves an indelible mark on the history of the Middle East and his message is more important than ever. On this day, UNESCO is more committed than ever to promote the values he stood for, to foster dialogue and innovate for peace. All peoples deserve to live in dignity, peace and security. This was his dream and it is our turn to make it a reality for all,” said Irina Bokova on the margins of the ceremony.

In a moving intervention, the President of Israel, H.E. Mr Reuven Rivlin, praised Shimon Peres as “a man of vision and deeds”. “Your stubborn faith in mankind and the good of people — in the victory of progress over ignorance, in the victory of hope over fear — was your eternal fountain of youth,” he said.

Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, underscored that the gathering of dozens of world leaders in Jerusalem was “a testament to Shimon Peres’ optimism, his quest for peace and his devotion to Israel”. “Israel grieves for him. The world grieves for him. But we find hope in his legacy,” he added.  

In the final eulogy of the service, President Obama recalled his time spent with Shimon Peres, “a man who was continually enthusiastic about technology and loved words, books and history". He said “Shimon showed to us what people can do when they harness reason and science to a common cause”.  

In 1993, Shimon Peres received the UNESCO Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize, together with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, for his contribution to peace in the Middle East, one year before receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1996, he inaugurated the Square of Tolerance at UNESCO Headquarters in memory of assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. A great friend of UNESCO, always guided by a profound belief in the power of multilateralism, Shimon Peres led the signing of recent agreements in March 2016 between UNESCO and the Peres Center for Peace.


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