(AGI) Rome, Sept 19 - Never before has "defending and preserving" a nation's cultural heritage been so important, said Qatar's former Minister of Culture and candidate for Director-General of UNESCO, Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al Kawari. Terrorists today target "not only man, but also humanity's collective consciousness and spirit," he stated while in Rome to outline his policy programme. Mr Al-Kawari praised Italy for its commitment towards artistic heritage, starting with "the decision to allocate a euro to culture for every euro spent on anti-terrorism". Culture can be an antidote for the "erroneous interpretations" of Islam that have caused destruction and devastation in the Middle East, he emphasised. "These terrorists aim not only to kill men, but humanity's collective spirit and conscience by destroying its cultural heritage," Mr Al-Kawari stated. "It's a cultural crisis, and through culture we can tackle them seriously. That is why I believe the presence of a moderate Arab at the helm of UNESCO, one who has experienced other cultures and respects them, can truly tackle the challenges of that deviant minority." Mr Al-Kawari defined himself a "citizen of the world", and affirmed "the importance of education, not only in terms of quantity but also quality". Conscious of the "enormous responsibility" that comes with the role of UNESCO director general, the former Qatari culture minister and information minister noted that he has dedicated his entire life "to education, culture, and traditions without ever giving more weight to one than another, but always expressing interest towards all of them". "I don't see that role as a job, but as a mission," he said to the Foreign Press after receiving an honorary degree from Rome's Tor Vergara University. While there, he gave a lecture on the role of education and culture in international relations. Italy is a "veritable museum of world history, which is why I decided to announce my candidacy in your country", he explained. Mr Al-Kawari concluded by noting that "UNESCO's goals are noble", but that the organisation is suffering from a "financial crisis". "A future administration must be creative in presenting and obtaining the necessary funds to overcome the crisis". (AGI). .