On 31 March 2014, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova was awarded with the highest state distinction of Bulgaria – the Order of Stara Planina with ribbon, for “her outstanding contribution to the Republic of Bulgaria, to strengthening world peace and security and to enhancing political and cultural cooperation on a global scale".
Upon conferring the order, President Rossen Plevneliev stated: "With your activity as Director-General of UNESCO, you have enhanced the image and visibility of Bulgaria in the UN system, as well as among our European and world partners. Thanks to your high professionalism and visionary approach, the Organization has become more efficient and capable of addressing new challenges".
“I accept this high distinction with emotion and respect, as recognition of my efforts to strengthen the place of Bulgaria on the world political scene, as a vote of confidence in my efforts to lead the great organization of UNESCO as a global platform for international cooperation in the areas of education, culture, communication and the sciences", said the Director General.
"I firmly believe all humanity needs UNESCO today," she continued. "People need our deeply humanistic message, they need us to find solutions for peace and sustainable development, to help governments in drafting inclusive policies that guarantee respect for cultural diversity, human rights and dignity."
Irina Bokova met separately with President Rossen Plevneliev, Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski and the Minister for Foreign Affairs Kristian Vigenin to review different aspects of cooperation between UNESCO and Bulgaria and to identify unexplored venues for its further deepening.