A glance at UNESCO's next leader

By The Associated Press
September 22, 2009

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A look at Bulgarian Irina Bokova, elected Tuesday to head the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO.

--AGE: 57. She was born July 12, 1952 in Sofia.

--EXPERIENCE: Bokova is a career diplomat who has served as Bulgaria's ambassador to France and its permanent delegate to UNESCO since 2005. She lost a bid to become vice-president in 1996, and served as Bulgaria's foreign minister for a few months in 1996-1997. From 1982-1984 she worked on political and judicial affairs at Bulgaria's U.N. mission in New York.

More generally, she played a role in Bulgaria's negotiations to join the European Union and NATO.

--EDUCATION AND FIELDS OF INTEREST: Bokova studied at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and at the University of Maryland. Her fields of interest include European integration issues and women's equality.

--FAMILY: Bokova's father, Georgi Bokov, was part of the inner circle of the former Soviet bloc nation's Communist Party leadership for several years. He was also editor-in-chief of the main party newspaper, Rabotnichesko Delo.

Her brother, Filip Bokov, is also a diplomat. He has been a political adviser to current President Georgi Parvanov and former Socialist Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev. Last year he was appointed as Bulgaria's ambassador to Slovenia.

--FOREIGN LANGUAGES: Fluent English, Russian, Spanish and French.