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"We cannot be silent any longer."
Federico Mayor addresses the conference

March 31, 1998 15.28  
It is intolerable that the freedom of speech is not a universal term, and UNESCO must give amnesty to freedom of expression world wide.

With a heavy Spanish accent and a rhetorical tour de force, Federico Mayor brought out applause several times during his speech on the topic Culture in areas of Conflict. Conflict was not his main issue, though. His concerns were concentrated on how to unite world culture and his main point was exactly - freedom of expression.

He started out by welcoming the letter he had just received from the participants of the conference concerning a cultural "Agenda 21". He reassured the listeners of his confidence in the UNESCO conference to take the suggestion into account. The cultural agenda is up to the member states, to the creators and artists themselves. Those who are involved must speak and UNESCO must learn to listen, said Mayor.

We are all equal. A unarguable fact to some, unfortunately not to others, and the beginning of the solution, said Mayor. We should not defend our own culture by refusing others. We should not claim our own language by denying to learn and speak another. We should protect our own culture by teaching our children to be open and to interact with others, not by limitations. If we want to protect the cultural debate, we should not divide people by the language they speak .

"Development is prevention and money in the future should be spent fulfilling this goal," said Mayor in his closing speech. The goal is that in ten years all the democratic countries will give 0.5% of their national budget for cultural and educational initiatives. We will try to convince all the democratic countries that prevention constitutes the real possibility of change.


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