A career diplomat from Bulgaria has become the first woman to be voted in as head of the United Nations agency for culture and education.Irina Bokova was the surprise winner of a closely fought election, beating her Egyptian rival by 31 votes to 27. On winning she said: “I have never believed in the idea of a clash of civilisations or differences. UNESCO stands for tolerance, dialogue and cultural diversity.” Bokova has an impeccable CV, can speak several languages and is a former Bulgarian ambassador to France. But her win over Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosny has shocked his supporters. Although a controversial figure – he was forced to apologise after threatening to burn Israeli books – Hosny had been favourite for the job. Although still needing her position to be validated, Bokova should be confirmed as UNESCO director-general next month.