Borissov in sideswipes over Bulgaria’s UN Secretary-General candidacy

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that if Bulgaria’s candidate to be UN Secretary-General had been nominated by his GERB party, the candidate would have been withdrawn a long time ago – as had happened in the case of Roumyana Zheleva.

Borissov, speaking at a Cabinet meeting on September 13, was referring to the fact that Bulgaria’s official candidate, Irina Bokova, had ranked only fifth in the most recent UN Security Council vote on the candidates to head the world body.

His reference to Zheleva was to his government’s 2010 nominee to be Bulgaria’s European Commissioner. When Zheleva’s performance at a European Parliament hearing descended into farce, her candidacy was withdrawn and she was replaced by Kristalina Georgieva – the same person whose name is being mooted as a new entry in the UN race in 2016. (Zheleva fell further; her failed candidacy for the European Commission also ended in her resignation as Bulgaria’s foreign minister).

In spite of reports in recent days that Bulgaria would switch its candidacy in the UN race from Bokova to Georgieva, Borissov said on September 13 that Bokova remained Bulgaria’s candidate. He added, however, a rider – that unless Bokova places in the top two in the UN Security Council’s September 26 vote, his government would rethink the matter.

Borissov remarked dourly that in some rankings, the candidates of Macedonia and Serbia were now ahead of that of Bulgaria in the contest to be the next Secretary-General of the UN.

He said that he did not remember the Bulgarian Socialist Party ever having nominated anyone from his GERB party for any post. “And now I hear comments that we intend to make this nomination (of Bokova) fail”.

Borissov’s government nominated Bokova in February 2016, under pressure from a minority socialist party, ABC, that then was part of his governing coalition. But the initial nomination of Bokova was made by the “Oresharski” administration in its dying days, before the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s electoral failure, coming on top of widely-supported public protests against it, saw it quit office.

“Nobody bother to ask me then, as the leader of the largest party, about our opinion,” Borissov said.

But, he added, his government had “made a huge effort to be consistent” and had confirmed the nomination of Bokova.

“We have worked with honesty and integrity, ” Borissov said, saying that he did not accept claims that the formal nomination of Bokova by his government had been tardy – a reference to allegations made earlier this year by figures from the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party.

“We sent letters asking the maximum number of countries to ensure their support,” Borissov said.

The Prime Minister said that he had asked Bokova to come to the September 13 meeting but, he said, she had told him that she was busy at Unesco – the body that Bokova is now in her second term as head.



Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015), and co-author of the book Bulgarian Jews: Living History (The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria 'Shalom', 2018). He is also the author of Power: A Political Novel, available via, and, on the lighter side, Whiskers And Other Short Tales of Cats (2021), also available via Amazon. He has translated books and numerous texts from Bulgarian into English.