Irina Gueorguieva Bokova (Born on 12 July, 1952 in Sofia, Bulgaria ) is the Ambassador of Bulgaria to France and a Permanent Delegate to UNESCO. On 22 September 2009, she was elected Director-General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization , which made her the first woman and the first Eastern European to take this role.
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Irina Bokova was born and grew up in the family of the influential communist-era politician Georgi Bokov, who worked as editor-in-chief of Rabotnichesko Delo, the official newspaper and propaganda tool of the Bulgarian Communist Party.
A career diplomat and politician, Irina Bokova studied at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and at the School of Public Affairs of the University of Maryland (USA). She served as deputy minister of Foreign Affairs (1995-97) and Minister of Foreign Affairs (1996-97). In 1996, as candidate to the post of Vice President of Bulgaria, she advocated her country’s membership in NATO and the European Union.
Her election as Director-General of UNESCO, 2009
On 22 September 2009, Bokova was elected Director-General of UNESCO by the 58 members of UNESCO’s Executive Board. She defeated nine candidates at the election in Paris, with Farouk Hosny ultimately being defeated by 31-27 in the fifth and last round of voting.
The nine candidates were: Ina Marčiulionytė (Lithuania); Mohammed Bedjaoui (Algeria); Irina Gueorguieva Bokova (Bulgaria); Farouk Hosny (Egypt); Sospeter Mwijarubi Muhongo (United Republic of Tanzania); Alexander Vladimirovich Yakovenko (Russian Federation); Ivonne Juez de A. Baki (Ecuador); Benita Ferrero-Waldner (Austria); Nouréini Tidjani-Serpos (Benin).
It was expected that Farouk Hosny would win but there was controversy and criticism over his views on antisemitism. Irina Bokova takes over the position from Koïchiro Matsuura of Japan. She will serve in this office for a four-year period.