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Speech of Peter Krawutschke at opening ceremony
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Peter Krawutschke, President for 2005-2008 Council of the International Federation of Translators, delivers a speech at the opening ceremony of the 18th World Congress of the International Federation of Translators, August 4,2008.

It gives me great pleasure to report that the 18th World Congress of the International Federation of Translators promises to be a spectacular event giving global visibility to our professions and academic disciplines. Our Chinese colleagues of the Translators Association of China did an excellent job in marshalling the human and financial resources necessary to bring this event to fruition. Not only did we have to compete with the Olympics, but the organizers also had to face major political and geological events. For all of their work on behalf of the global community of translation and interpreters, FIT wishes to thank our Chinese colleagues.

When FIT was founded in 1953, eight years after the end of the Second World War, the founding member associations came from France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Turkey, and Denmark. As you can see, former enemies and friends worked together for the good of the profession. What better historical record of the apolitical nature of the translators'and interpreters'work could I cite?

From the beginning, the founders under the leadership of Pierre-François Caillé patterned FIT on the aims and administrative structure of the U.N. and UNESCO. That global posture is clearly expressed in FIT’s participation in drafting the 1976 UNESCO Nairobi International Recommendation on the Legal Protection of Translators and the Practical Means to Improve the Status of Translators. Over the years, FIT grew to represent over sixty countries and approximately 400,000 interpreters and translators worldwide.

It is interesting to note that by its 50th anniversary, FIT had changed its Europe-centered posture by moving its Secretariat to Montréal, Canada, and by making this move permanent.

Without a doubt, the founders of FIT would be delighted that this year the global community of translators and interpreters meets in China in the beautiful city of Shanghai. It is the first time that the FIT Congress takes place in Asia, and I hope that this Congress will serve as an inspiration for our member associations in Latin America, in Africa, and in the Near East to consider hosting the FIT Congress in future years.

I frequently state that translators and interpreters work locally and nationally, but need to pay attention to global developments because our industry is not exempt from globalization. It is becoming ever more important that national and regional translator and interpreter associations evaluate the local impact of international quality standards and curricular developments in the disciplines that form the foundation of our professions.

It is my considered opinion that the best way to represent and to protect your local and national professional and economic interests is to be actively engaged in the work of the only organization representing these interests globally, and that organization is FIT, the International Federation of Translators. By your presence here today, you have chosen to do so.

May I express my sincere hope that you will continue to enjoy your work in the years to come, that you will nourish your friendships with your fellow translators made at this 18th FIT World Congress, and that you will take full advantage of the rich palette of professional and educational information this Congress will offer you during the next few days.

I thank my colleagues from the Translators Association of China and I thank the city of Shanghai for hosting the 18th FIT World Congress.

Peter Krawutschke is President for 2005-2008 Council of the International Federation of Translators .

(China.org.cn August 4, 2008)

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