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Russian Columbus Statue Given to OAS

September 10, 1998

A Russian-made statue of Christopher Columbus given to the Organization of American States (OAS) will serve as a reassuring beacon on our journey forward into the new millennium, Secretary General César Gaviria has said.

The statue entitled Birth of a New World was presented Wednesday evening by the Russian ambassador to the United States, Mr. Yuli Vorontsov, as the organization of Western Hemisphere nations marks its 50th aniversary this year. Russia has observer status at the OAS.

The ambassador pointed out that while it was not involved in the discovery of the Americas, Russia knows this wonderful man who discovered this New World. He went on to say Columbus was well-known in Russia, where his immense importance for the history of the New World is appreciated.

This gift to the OAS is a three foot tall replica of a full-scale statue being planned by prominent Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli. The full sculpture is to be made and placed in Puerto Rico by the year 2000 as the second of a two-part composition retracing the route of Adiscovery of the Americas--from the AOld World to the New World. Puerto Rico was chosen because it is the only US administered territory in the hemisphere where the Italian explorer and his crew actually set foot. The first part, Birth of a New Man, was erected in Seville, Spain, in 1995

Said an appreciative Secretary General Gaviria on accepting the gift: Much as the Niña carried Christopher Columbus and the aspirations of the Old World across the oceans to our shores, the OAS is poised to serve as the vessel that will transport our hemisphere across the divide of time into the new millennium.

He acknowledged that while Columbus was not the first European to set foot in the Americas, he did open the collective consciousness of an entire world onto the New World....

A prolific sculptor, Mr. Tsereteli is the president of the Russian Academy of Arts and serves as a UNESCO goodwill ambassador. His works have graced numerous importance edifices around the world, including the United Nations in New York and UNESCO in Paris.

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