Ambassador of Bulgaria to France, Permanent Delegate to UNESCO and Kokkalis fellow Irina Bokova was appointed Director-General of UNESCO on 22 September 2009 at the UN organization’s headquarters in Paris.
With her new appointment Irina Bokova has become the first woman, the first Eastern European, and the fifth European to head UNESCO.
A career diplomat and politician, Irina Gueorguieva Bokova was born in Sofia in 1952. She 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.
Irina Bokova completed the executive training on Leadership and Development of the Kokkalis Program at Harvard in 1999. Bokova has stated about the Kokkalis Foundation "I appreciate very much what the Kokkalis Foundation is doing for the promotion of peace, stability and better understanding of the peoples in South-East Europe. Its Harvard-based program and all the other regional activities serve indeed as a bridge both among the Balkan peoples themselves as well as between the US and South-East European communities of academics, politicians and NGO's."
Irina Bokova has been serving as the Bulgarian ambassador to France and as a permanent delegate to UNESCO since 2005