Sofia, February 10, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov says that he is disappointed by the “hysterical, falsetto noise” on the topic of the country’s nomination of a candidate to be the next United Nations Secretary-General.
Mitov was speaking on February 10 2016 in a television interview, the morning after his ministry announced that it had sent a formal letter nominating Irina Bokova, in terms of a decision taken in June 2014 by the now-departed Bulgarian Socialist Party-Movement for Rights and Freedoms “Oresharski” cabinet.
Mitov said that the hysteria would in no way contribute to the success of the nomination.
The Foreign Minister, who some weeks ago said that Bulgaria would officially announce its candidate only when the time was propitious for success, rejected allegations that the government had been tardy in naming the candidate.
He said, “we have to respect the cabinet decision of 2014. The decision was not revoked, but we had to choose a suitable moment for the Bulgarian nomination for the UN Secretary-General”.
“We have not delayed at all, we have until the end of March (to submit the nomination). Other serious candidates are still to appear, waiting is a matter of tactics. There should not be a delay but also there should not be a hurry,” Mitov said.
Although Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov had said that Bulgaria would announce its candidate only around the end of March, the announcement came on the night of February 9 in a three-paragraph statement by the Foreign Ministry.
At the time of the nomination in 2014, the government in which Plamen Oresharski occupied the prime minister’s chair was clearly on its way out, doomed by popular protests against it and BSP electoral dysfunction. At the time, Borissov, then in opposition but who would be elected back into government in the autumn, deemed the nomination “insolence”.
In the past few weeks, Georgi Purvanov, leader of socialist minority party ABC, a minority partner in the coalition government, threatened that his party would withdraw its support of the cabinet unless Bokova’s candidacy was announced and campaigned for actively.
Bokova is currently in a second term as head of Unesco. Her political background is with the Bulgarian Communist Party, later the Bulgarian Socialist Party. She was a deputy minister in a 1990s BSP government that was forced out by popular protests over the economic crisis over which it presided, and was the BSP’s candidate for vice-president in the 1996 elections, losing to the ticket of the centre-right UDF.
Her time at Unesco has seen the US suspend its funding for that body after Bokova led recognition of the “Palestinian state” at Unesco.
Mitov said that his ministry would mobilise all its resources and capabilities to defend the Bulgarian nomination.
He said that there was no way to assess Bokova’s chances. “Things are dynamic and can change every day, the choice will be only at the end of the year”.
Mitov said that Kristalina Georgieva, Bulgaria’s European Commissioner, had never officially declared that she would be nominated as the country’s candidate to head the UN. Georgieva had always said that she had important work at the commission, Mitov said.
There have been media reports portraying Georgieva, a respected former World Bank vice-president and two-time European Commissioner – how holding the vice-presidency in charge of the EU budget – could be a more credible candidate than Bokova. The Bokova camp has alleged that negative international media reports about Bokova emanate from within Bulgaria.