Bulgaria’s Georgieva takes unpaid leave from European Commission for UN race

European Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva will take unpaid leave from the Commission during October 2016 after Bulgaria’s government named her as its new candidate for the post of United Nations Secretary-General.

Germany’s Günther Oettinger will temporarily take over Georgieva’s portfolio of the EU budget and human resources, a European Commission spokesperson told a news conference on September 28.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had agreed to Georgieva’s request for unpaid leave after Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and Georgieva notified him of the Bulgarian government’s decision to nominate Georgieva in the race to head the world body.

During the period of her absence, there would be a “strict separation” of activities related to Georgieva’s candidacy and her work as a member of the European Commission, in a “fully transparent manner”, the EC spokesperson said.

Georgieva is in her second term as a European Commissioner.

From February 2010 to November 2014, she was Commissioner for International Co-operation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response in the Barroso Commission. In the Juncker Commission, she holds the post of Vice-President in charge of the EU budget and human resources.

Bulgaria’s Cabinet decided on September 28 to nominate Georgieva in the UN race in the place of Unesco head Irina Bokova, whose performance in a succession of UN Security Council “straw polls” among the candidates has seen Bokova in steady decline.

Bokova had said, after the latest poll on September 26 saw her drop to sixth place among the candidates, that she saw “no serious reason” to withdraw, but Borissov’s Cabinet opted for Georgieva, saying that it believed that Georgieva would have much better chances of winning the race. The Cabinet also underlined that Georgieva met the criteria set out in calls that a woman from Eastern Europe should be the successor to Ban Ki-moon, who leaves office as UN Secretary-General at the end of 2016.

(Photo of Georgieva: EU Audiovisual Service)




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 amazon.com, 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.