By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of the Sofia Globe
Against a background of political turbulence in Bulgaria and the question mark over how long the current government will last, new reports suggest that Irina Bokova – the UNESCO chief named in earlier reports as put forward as Plamen Oresharski’s choice to be the country’s candidate UN Secretary General – will first be offered nomination as Bulgaria’s European Commissioner.
The larger question mark, given that at some point in the coming days or weeks the cabinet will resign, is just who will be making the nominations to these posts.
On June 12, a report in the Bulgarian-language media said that Bokova, the Bulgarian who has been UNESCO chief since 2009 and now is in her second term in that post, had been named by Oresharski – occupant of the prime minister’s chair in the Bulgarian Socialist Party government – as Bulgaria’s candidate to take over the UN in 2017.
According to the practice of the UN, in 2017 it will be the turn of the 23-member Eastern European Group in the UN to have the next Secretary General come from one of their countries.
There has been no official response to these reports, apart from unnamed foreign ministry sources saying that a nomination of Bokova to the UN post had not been discussed at the June 11 cabinet meeting. However, the report had said that Oresharski wanted the nomination, and had not said that this had been discussed by the cabinet.
In a follow-up, on June 13 daily 24 Chassa, quoting a “senior source” said that before being offered the UN candidacy, Bokova could be offered another important post – that of Bulgaria’s European Commissioner.
This latter nomination is also a deeply vexed issue in Bulgarian politics. Given the resounding defeat of the BSP in Bulgaria’s May 25 European Parliament elections, centre-right opposition GERB has insisted that the current government has no moral right to nominate Bulgaria’s member of the European Commission.
At first, Oresharski said that it was only the cabinet that had the right to make the nomination, but then as the political melodrama of recent days unfolded, BSP leader Sergei Stanishev said that the government should resign, and a new government and new parliament decide on key issues – including the European Commission nomination.
According to the 24 Chassa report, the source said that Bokova had an already established international reputation, was one of the most recognisable faces from Bulgaria in EU countries, and had a good reputation in France, where she had been Bulgaria’s ambassador, and also had a good reputation in the UK, one of the countries that was key in decisions on the next European Commission.
However, another option is that Bulgaria’s incumbent European Commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva, would be offered nomination to another term, having worked well in her humanitarian and crisis management portfolio.
Georgieva was nominated by the previous government, which was in power from 2009 and early 2013. Her CV and the fact that she is a woman also place her well for a nomination as UN Secretary General, a post that never has been occupied by a woman.
(Photo of Bokova: Danica Bijeljac)