UNESCO’s Corrupt Former Director General Irina Bokova To Speak At AIEA’s ‘Internationalization’ Conference

AIEA Asking Irina Bokova to Speak at its ‘Internationalization’ Conference
is Like Asking Trump to Speak at a Feminist Rally

By Vic Gerami


Irina Bokova

Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA) will hold its annual conference virtually from February 15 through February 17, 2021. The theme of the conference this year is ‘Leading Internationalization in a New Era: Collaborating for Global Solutions.’

One of the individuals scheduled to speak is Irina Bokova, the former Director-General of UNESCO from 2009 to 2017. Why AIEA’s president Dr. Adel El Zaïm or anyone at the organization would ask Bokova to speak is a mystery. Various investigative reports by reputable publications such as The Guardian, note numerous evidence and discoveries of fraud, corruption, abuse & malpractice on her reputation and career.

I short, Bokova took a substantial amount of money from the President of Azerbaijan to stay silent about the Azerbaijan’s destruction of over 2,000 Armenian churches, monasteries, monuments, cemeteries, and antiquity. Bokova was rewarded generously for turning a blind eye, including receiving laundered money through her husband. In 2013, after a $5 million donation from Baku, UNESCO held a photo exhibition called Azerbaijan — Land Of Tolerance, at its Paris headquarters. In 2019, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee held its annual meeting in Baku.

Analysts believe that senior UNESCO officials were effectively bought off with the so-called “caviar diplomacy’ that oil-rich Azerbaijan is known for.

Surb Karapet (Holy Precursor Church) in Abrakunis, a major center of medieval Armenian theology

Bokova’s cozy relationship with Azerbaijan ruling family has served her and her husband very well through the years. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev paid Bokova’s husband, Kalin Mitrev, a Bulgarian appointed last year to the board of the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, a total of $468,000.

He received six payments totaling  $468,000 between 2012 and 2014 from three laundromat companies to accounts in Bulgaria and Switzerland. An additional over $40,000 did not arrive in his account after two attempts to make the transaction were rejected by Deutsche Bank “due to sensitivities.” Under current anti-money laundering legislation, banks must reject suspicious transactions.

Bokova was the Director General of UNESCO at the time. She bestowed one of Unesco’s highest honours, the Mozart Medal on Azerbaijan’s first lady and vice-president, Mehriban Aliyeva. She also hosted a photo exhibition at Unesco’s headquarters in Paris, entitled Azerbaijan – A Land of Tolerance. The Heydar Aliyev foundation organized the event. Read this article if you wish to know the nauseating irony for Azerbaijan to be called ‘A Land of Tolerance.’

Some of Djulfa’s thousands of khachkars before their destruction, the majority of which were erected in the 16th century

Such cultural exhibitions are not as innocuous as they may seem. Promoting itself as a tolerant country is a tactic through which the Azerbaijani government ingratiates itself with the West and deflects criticism of its human rights record. That an organization as well-known as UNESCO would host such an event at a time when Azerbaijan was arresting dozens of civil society activists was unusual, and was criticized at the time.

Many people have criticized Bokova’s silence after the 2005 razing of Julfa and contrasted it with the organization’s strong response to the 2001 destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and of the ancient city of Palmyra by Islamic State militants in Syria in 2015.

Bokova and her husband’s standard salary versus their lavish lifestyle has warranted red flags. Bokova owns property in Manhattan worth more than $3 million, reported the Bulgarian website and OCCRP partner Bivol.

After analyzing the family’s known income, Bivol questioned whether they could afford the property.

Irina Bokova tarnishes the reputation of AIEA. Dr. Adel El Zaïm and other leaders of the organization should uninvite Irina Bokova to their conference.