Bulgarian PM Borissov: President Plevneliev will not be candidate to replace Georgieva as European Commissioner

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on October 29 that incumbent head of state President Rossen Plevneliev will not be the country’s candidate to succeed Kristalina Georgieva as a member of the European Commission.

Borissov was speaking a day after the announcement of the resignation of Georgieva, who was vice-president of the European Commission in charge of the EU budget and human resources, to take up the post of World Bank chief executive in January 2017.

The name of Plevneliev, who is not seeking a second term in Bulgaria’s November 2016 presidential elections, was mentioned in speculation as a likely nominee to be proposed by Bulgaria to succeed Georgieva.

But Borissov said that Plevneliev was not among the options because he had to remain President “until the end of January”.

“This is in our constitution,” Borissov said.

It may be added that this is not strictly true. The President can resign, and per the constitution, have his term served out by the vice-president.

Borissov said that he would talks on October 31 with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker about the question of Bulgaria’s nominee for the commission.

Juncker has already announced that Georgieva’s portfolio will be handled by Guenther Oettinger, the most senior among the Commission vice-presidents with Georgieva’s departure.

Georgieva will remain on the Commission until the end of 2016.

It is not seen as likely that the portfolio that Georgieva holds, and her vice-president’s office, will necessarily go to the next Bulgarian on the Commission. Georgieva is in her second term at the Commission, and got the vice-presidency against a background of her track record and being highly thought of.

Borissov rejected criticism from left-wing opposition figures that Georgieva’s departure from the Commission was “another failure for Bulgarian foreign policy”. Such criticism came from Ivailo Kalfin, a former foreign minister and former MEP who is ABC’s candidate for President, and from opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova. Kalfin said that Bulgaria had lost a position in the EC that it would hardly get back.

Responding to a call by Ninova to leave the choice of Bulgaria’s candidate European Commissioner until after the presidential elections, Borissov said that this was linked to left-wing desire to have the post offered to Plamen Oresharski.

Oresharski was the occupant of the prime minister’s chair in the 2013/14 administration, which left office well ahead of term following prolonged widely-supported public protests against it, and the thrashing dealt out to the BSP by the electorate in Bulgaria’s May 2014 European Parliament elections.

Oresharski is currently a presidential candidate in the November 2016, as an “independent”, backed by the opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms. No reliable poll has given him the remotest chance of winning or even of getting close to making it to a second-round vote.

Borissov said: “If Mr Oresharski does not become president, Mrs Ninova has the idea of making him a European Commissioner. So I should wait for that. They did not conquer us in parliamentary elections, that I should wait. But I have goodwill, so I will conduct consultations,” Borissov said.

Meanwhile, in Bulgaria, considerable speculation is afoot about who the country will nominate. Apart from the name of Plevneliev, now denied by the Prime Minister, others that have been mentioned are those of Tomislav Donchev, currently deputy prime minister in charge of EU funds, and Nikolai Mladenov, formerly Bulgaria’s foreign minister and currently the UN Secretary-General’s special representative on the Middle East Peace Process.

(Archive photo of Borissov, left, and Plevneliev: president.bg)





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.