I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The EU has joined consensus on resolution L.17/rev.1 and would like to thank the main sponsors for their flexibility in addressing the concerns of delegations in the revised text.
The European Union understands the purpose of this resolution in affirming the importance of interreligious and intercultural dialogue as important dimensions of the dialogue among civilizations and of the culture of peace. The European Union also sees this resolution as an expression of commitment that genuine interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace can only take place if human rights and fundamental freedoms are fully protected and promoted.
The EU is in full agreement that the promotion of dialogue and understanding among cultures is essential to building a more peaceful world. For this reason, the EU supported the decision at the recent General Conference of UNESCO to recommend to the General Assembly the proclamation of the International Year for the rapprochement of cultures.
However, the EU would like to recall that the existing ECOSOC guidelines for the consideration of international years, which we have reaffirmed last year by adopting resolution 61/185, set out that prior to their consideration by the General Assembly, proposals for international years made by organizations within the UN system should first be brought to the attention of ECOSOC to enable the Council to advise on their timing and to evaluate their purpose. The EU believes it important that the clear mandate of ECOSOC in this regard should be respected and we regret that it has not been so in this case.
It is our hope that, despite that, we use the two years we have until 2010 to properly prepare, under the active guidance of UNESCO, the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures so that it can make a real difference and achieve its objective of bringing different cultures together.
I thank you, Mr. President.