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Art Director of Mariinsky Theatre Honoured with Title of UNESCO Artist for Peace - 1 April, 2003

The diploma of the UNESCO Artist for Peace has been presented to art director and head of the St. Petersburg State Academic Mariinsky Theatre Valery Gergiyev. The ceremony was held in the context of the Days of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania in the UNESCO headquarters in Paris on Monday evening.

Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Koichiro Matsuura said this title had been conferred upon Valery Gergyev for his outstanding personal services in the development of culture and as a representative of North Ossetia to mark the successes of that republic in implementing the ideals of UNESCO.

On behalf of Gergiyev, the diploma was received by his sister and the President of the republic Alexander Dzasokhov who said in his reply speech that North Ossetia where over a hundred nationalities had been living since times immemorial and where nearly all religions of the world were represented can be called "a laboratory for UNESCO." "Our experience of preserving the cultural heritage, of a peaceful co-existence and the harmonic development of cultures can be of interest to UNESCO," he underscored.

Alexander Dzasokhov also expressed his satisfaction with the decision of the UNESCO Director General to come to North Ossetia during his coming visit to Russia at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin. Koichiro Matsuura is expected to take part in the celebrations on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg and to visit Vladikavkaz and Kazan.

During the visit of the UNESCO Director General we intend to organise his meeting with rectors of the largest universities of southern Russia in order to discuss cooperation in the sphere of education, said Alexander Dzasokhov in a RIA Novosti interview. "We are sure that this will be a constructive and mutually advantageous dialogue."