The Bulgarian Government will announce its candidate for the post of United Nations Secretary-General at the moment at which conditions are most favourable for success, Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov was quoted by local media as saying on January 5 2016.
His statement comes against a background of the 2013/14 government having backed Irina Bokova, currently in her second term as head of UNESCO, to become the next UN head – a move made by the now-departed “Oresharski” administration in June 2014, when it was nearing its closing days.
Even as that administration departed, speculation began that the new government might not follow through with support for Bokova, whose political origins run deep with the Bulgarian Socialist Party, for which she was a failed candidate for vice-president of the republic in the 1990s.
There has been no definitive statement on the part of the second Boiko Borissov government, in office since November 2014, about continuing to back Bokova, who won her first term as UNESCO head after the previous front-runner was perceived as discredited.
A principle topic of speculation on the issue has been that instead of Bokova, the Borissov government would put forward Kristalina Georgieva, now in her second term as a European Commissioner, having gained a major promotion in the Commission when Jean-Claude Juncker took office as EC President.
Borissov is known to have a high regard for Georgieva and previously has sought her out for high-ranking domestic government posts, but on the domestic political scene of early 2016, it is an open question whether he would wish to change horses in midstream at the risk of possibly causing tensions with some left-wing political forces with which he might either want to continue or to forge new co-operation.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Mitov was reported to have told Bulgarian news agency BTA that in deciding on the most opportune moment to announce its candidate, there was an “element of tactics”.
“We should not speculate about names but should count on the qualities behind them,” Mitov was reported to have said.
He said that one of the most important qualities of the candidate to be put forward by Bulgaria should be the candidacy’s ability to achieve consensus among UN member states, and in practice in the choice of the Secretary-General, the permanent members of the Security Council.
This is likely to be a reference to the necessity of a candidacy that would satisfy both the United States and Russia. However, both Bokova and Georgieva have credentials that would make them known quantities to the Kremlin – Bokova because of her background with the BSP, a generally pro-Russian party, and Georgieva because, between 2004 and 2007, she was World Bank resident representative in Moscow.
Bokova’s term as UNESCO head expires in 2017, the same year that the term of the next UN Secretary General begins.
In 2017, it will be the turn of the UN’s Eastern European Group, one of five regional blocs at the UN and which currently includes 23 countries, to have the Secretary General come from one of its countries. Informed observers as the race procedurally begins to get underway note that the UN has not yet had a woman Secretary-General – again, and quite obviously, a criterion that both Georgieva and Bokova fulfil. Either, however, could find herself up against other possible women candidates from the Eastern European Group of the UN.
On the issue of consensus about the candidacy, Mitov said that Bulgaria would rely on a “recognisable figure” that could achieve this consensus. “But anyway, this is a process that involves a lot of diplomatic work, not media speculation,” he said.