Polarised political reaction in Bulgaria to nomination of Bokova as candidate UN chief

Reactions among Bulgaria’s political parties in Parliament to the nomination of Irina Bokova as the country’s candidate to be the next United Nations Secretary-General ranged from seeing it as having every chance of success, to being disastrously wrong.

Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement on February 9 2016 that it had sent a letter nominating Bokova, who was put up as the candidate by the now-departed ruling axis of the Bulgarian Socialist Party and Movement for Rights and Freedoms in June 2014.

A day before, Bulgaria’s European Commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva, an economist and former World Bank vice-president who has gained respect for her performance in her former Commission portfolio in charge of humanitarian aid and now is vice-president in charge of the EU budget, and who was seen as a credible alternative to Bokova, said that she would remain with the EC.

In the National Assembly on February 10, Dzhema Grozdanova, an MP for GERB – the centre-right majority partner in government – said that there was money allocated in the Budget to campaign for Bokova.

Grozdanova rejected allegations against the current government that it had not been timely in naming the candidate.

“Nomination does not mean election,” said Grozdanova, adding that the procedure was very onerous and required the consent of the member states of the UN Security Council, which was very difficult. “We expect to work hard, to have a national campaign that ends with a positive result.”

The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party’s leader Mihail Mikov said that if the state committed itself, Bokova could win. According to Mikov, Bokova had all the qualities, and “now we need to engage the whole state machine to achieve success for Bulgaria”.

Aliosman Imamov of the opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the third-largest party in the National Assembly, said that there was an uphill battle ahead, with many candidates, including from the Balkan countries, who would constitute serious competition.

It has an exclusive chance all countries of the Security Council to support it without veto. We fear that there could be vetoed as people who are members of the European Commission are directly linked to sanctions on Russia. Russia has clearly stated that it would veto such an application. So Mrs. Bokova is the best candidate, said Mariana Georgieva.

The parliamentary group of the nationalist Patriotic Front, a minority partner in the coalition government agreement, has no official position but its co-leader Valeri Simeonov said that he would support Bokova.

Socialist breakaway ABC, one of the two smallest parties in Parliament but which is part of the coalition government and which had threatened to quit the coalition unless the government nominated Bokova, expressed confidence that Bokova had every chance of success.

The other of the two smallest parties in Parliament, Ataka, said that Bokova’s candidacy had a good chance and Bulgaria should not have “wasted its time” before nominating her.

The Reformist Bloc, the centre-right coalition that is a minority partner in the cabinet, said that the nomination was “disastrously wrong”.

The bloc’s Grozdan Karadzhov said that it was disastrously wrong because it polarised society. It led to a clash between two extreme opinions, to an unhealthy debate reaching to the communist past, about the killing of people – things for which she could hardly be blamed. Could not a consensus figure for the post have been found, Karadzhov said.



The Sofia Globe staff

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