UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova opened on Monday in Sofia a centre for the protection of intangible cultural heritage in southeastern Europe, the Bulgarian ministry of culture said.
"The protection of non-material cultural heritage is linked to the preservation of people's identity amid growing globalisation," Bokova told Presa newspaper in an interview.
The organisation already has similar centres in Algeria, China, Japan, Peru and South Korea to help protect intangible cultural heritage like traditional music, rituals and festivals, and this is the first in Europe.
Bulgarian items on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage include a barefoot fire-dancing rite known as Nestinarstvo, and a traditional group for polyphonic singing, dances and rituals, the Bistritsa Babi, Bokova said.
During her visit here the UNESCO chief, who is Bulgarian, was scheduled to meet President Rosen Plevneliev, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, ministers and intellectuals.