Une Grande Dame De La Chanson Française

Committee Member Bill Diem Basks In The Starlight
Committee Member Bill Diem Basks In The Starlight
Eager to meet a 1940s existentialist icon turned grande dame of la chanson française up-close, a group of AAPA members gathered Oct. 28 in an ideal Left Bank setting: the plush red velvet-armchaired Empire-style bar of L'Hôtel on the rue des Beaux-Arts (where the Association celebrated its 100th anniversary in December 2007). Our guest? Juliette Gréco. About to embark on a tour of Japan, Gréco confirmed that she had been "living in the present for six decades." Topics of discussion ranged from memory lane descriptions of Saint-Germain-des-Prés and nods to absent friends – including Jean-Paul Sartre and Miles Davis – to the current controversy surrounding Roman Polanski. Paris arts correspondents will be keen to pitch festive stories focusing on her December 14 concert at the Versailles Opera.

--- Georgina Oliver


AAPA Members Meet New Head Of UNESCO

Credit photo: UNESCO/Michel Ravassard
Credit photo: UNESCO/Michel Ravassard

Some thirty members had a first-hand chance to probe Irina Bokova’s background, experience and plans for UNESCO following her successful election as Director General of the Paris-based agency, in a newsworthy, lively event on Oct. 7.

Our breakfast meeting with Bokova, still at that time Bulgaria's ambassador to France, took place at UNESCO headquarters, following a heated behind-the-scenes battle in which she narrowly defeated the controversial, Egyptian culture minister, Farouk Hosny.

Relaxed, forthcoming, and on-the-record, the 57-year-old diplomat told us about her background: how she had once wanted to be a foreign correspondent; why she supported and respected the role of her father, former editor of Bulgaria’s then-leading Communist Party newspaper, and who had proven a strong, anti-Nazi resistant leader during World War II; and how, over the years, as a trained diplomat, she came to actively support Bulgaria’s membership in the European Union and NATO.

Responding to many questions, Bokova outlined her plans for UNESCO as she prepared to take over from Japan’s Koichiro Matsura, who was our guest, nine years earlier. She pledged to address such key, global issues as climate change, gender roles, the financial crisis and said she plans to decentralize the organization with its 2,800 employees. Some thirty members had a first-hand chance to probe Irina Bokova’s background, experience and plans for UNESCO following her successful election as Director General of the Paris-based agency, in a newsworthy, lively event on Oct. 7.

Our breakfast meeting with Bokova, still at that time Bulgaria's ambassador to France, took place at UNESCO headquarters, following a heated behind-the-scenes battle in which she narrowly defeated the controversial, Egyptian culture minister, Farouk Hosny.

Relaxed, forthcoming, and on-the-record, the 57-year-old diplomat told us about her background: how she had once wanted to be a foreign correspondent; why she supported and respected the role of her father, former editor of Bulgaria’s then-leading Communist Party newspaper, and who had proven a strong, anti-Nazi resistant leader during World War II; and how, over the years, as a trained diplomat, she came to actively support Bulgaria’s membership in the European Union and NATO.

Responding to many questions, Bokova outlined her plans for UNESCO as she prepared to take over from Japan’s Koichiro Matsura, who was our guest, nine years earlier. She pledged to address such key, global issues as climate change, gender roles, the financial crisis and said she plans to decentralize the organization with its 2,800 employees.

---- Axel Krause