Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev hosted a meeting on June 9 with Bulgaria’s recently-elected members of the European Parliament, although there were three no-shows, including Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Sergei Stanishev.
The other two missing were the BSP’s Georgi Pirinski and GERB’s Maria Gabriel. Similarly, at a June 5 meeting with prime minister Plamen Oresharski, Stanishev and Pirinski did not turn up. Stanishev, whose political future is in doubt after the BSP’s latest electoral defeat, has said that he does not intend taking up the MEP seat to which he was elected.
Going by a statement by the President’s office and comments by some of the MEPs who attended the meeting, issues discussed included the nomination of Bulgaria’s European Commissioner and the question of early parliamentary elections.
A day earlier, Plevneliev told reporters that it appeared that Bulgaria was heading towards early elections in the autumn – a comment made against a background of various statements by political party leaders about bringing forward national parliamentary elections in the light of the sound defeat handed to the BSP in the May 25 European Parliament elections.
That election defeat also has spurred the issue of nominating a European Commissioner, with the current cabinet previously having insisted that it remains its prerogative to do so, while opposition GERB leader Boiko Borissov has said that the government has lost the moral right to make the nomination. There have been widespread reports that Stanishev wants the European Commission post for himself.
Plevneliev insisted at the June 9 meeting with the MEPs that there should be a “clear and transparent” procedure in choosing the European Commissioner, involving the political parties and the government.
In a signal against the line being taken by the governing axis, Plevneliev said that Bulgaria should not wait until the last possible moment to come up with the nomination.
According to a recent report in daily 24 Chassa, Oresharski said that Bulgaria’s candidate European Commissioner should be chosen according who could get the strongest portfolio. “We have to be realistic and realise that our influence in the community is not such that we can choose the portfolio,” Oresharski was quoted as saying.
Tomislav Donchev, list leader for GERB, said that at the meeting with Plevneliev there was a “consensus” that Bulgaria should not wait until the last minute to make its nomination, so that it could fight for the best possible European Commission portfolio.
President Plevneliev said that he expected political leaders to hold talks and to reach consensus on a proposal for a date for early parliamentary elections.
According to one of the MEPs who attended the meeting, Nikolai Barekov of the minority Bulgaria Without Censorship party, the president said that the election date was a matter for the parties represented in parliament, but he mentioned late September to early October.
Other topics discussed included EU funds, Bulgarian accession to the EU’s Schengen visa zone and in the long term, Bulgaria’s accession to the euro zone.
“These were among the topics about which we have no dispute, and, of course, the big issue, that we should all strive and work so that Europe is strong in energy, security, foreign policy, rather than focus on in what kind of bottle to put olive oil,” Donchev said.