SECRETARY-GENERAL, HONOURED IN KYRGYZSTAN, SAYS
NEW YORK, 21 October (UN Headquarters) -- This is the text of remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday (20 October) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Askar Akayev:
You have truly honoured me by awarding me the Order of Manas today. This is a precious symbol of your country’s heritage, and I am deeply proud to be presented with it on my first visit to Kyrgyzstan.
I know that the epic of Manas is a treasure which the Kyrgyz people have nurtured and handed down, from generation to generation, for more than one thousand years. It speaks more eloquently than I ever could of the character, courage and endurance your people have displayed in braving hardship, harsh climate conditions and high mountains throughout your country’s history. And it has been a source of strength and inspiration to them as they have worked to reassert and revive their cultural identity and traditions in the years since Kyrgyzstan’s independence.
The Manas gives life to values that are also at the heart of the mission of the United Nations -- justice, tolerance and peaceful co-existence. That creates a solid bond between us. It makes us natural partners in the work for peace and progress, as your country works to address challenges ranging from regional stability to development and environmental protection.
As you strive to build a better future for all the people of Kyrgyzstan, please rest assured that the United Nations family is committed to working with you hand in hand.
And rest assured that I shall always treasure this Order of Manas as a symbol of your people’s indomitable and freedom-loving spirit -- a spirit as eternal as Lake Issykul and the majestic mountains that surround it. Although I cannot match the poetry of the Manas, this Order will always inspire within me memories of this beautiful and legendary land.
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