European Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva has described the Bulgarian government’s decision to nominate her as its candidate in the race to be United Nations Secretary-General as a great honour.
“I accept the nomination knowing how responsible that position is. And knowing how important it is for this world to be a safer, stronger, fairer and more prosperous place for present and future generations,” Georgieva said in a video message posted a few hours after Bulgaria’s government switched its support in the UN race from Irina Bokova to her.
Bokova, who a few hours before the Cabinet meeting was quoted by local media as saying that she saw “no serious reason” to withdraw from the race, had not commented by late afternoon on the decision by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s government. After the Cabinet decision, she was reported to have said that she would “study the decision” before commenting.
Borissov’s Cabinet decided on the Georgieva nomination against a background of Bokova’s dwindling results in a succession of United Nations Security Council votes on the field of candidates to be the next Secretary-General of the world body.
Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov said that the decision to withdraw support from Bokova had been an onerous one, but had been taken on the basis of careful analysis and discussions with Bulgaria’s partners.
Mitov said that Georgieva was a person who was respected throughout the world, who had practical diplomatic experience and who was a strong candidate.
He said that there was no procedure for the withdrawal of nominees to be UN Secretary-General.
“We leave it to the discretion and judgment of Mrs Bokova how to reasssess her participation in this competition,” Mitov said.
He said that the Bulgarian government, the foreign minister, prime minister and president had not deviated in any way from the officially stated position and support for the nomination to date, a reference to Bokova.
“All speculation appearing in the media that I called people, foreign ministers, Security Council member states, to explain who will be be changed and who not, are lies. Whoever says such a thing is a liar,” Mitov said.
The decision to dump Bokova caused ire among left-wing opposition parties. The Bulgarian Socialist Party said that it would seek support for the tabling in Parliament of motion of no confidence in Borissov’s government on the grounds of its conduct of foreign policy.
Commenting on the move, Mitov said: “We could have nominated the Dalai Lama and the BSP would say that Mrs Bokova has better chances”.
Update: On the IrinaforUN Twitter account, Bokova posted in the late afternoon: “Grateful to all who support me and fully committed to continue the race” for UN Secretary-General.