Category Archives: Bulgaria

(EurActiv) Journalistic investigation digs into Commissioner Georgieva’s past


A journalistic investigation alleges Commission Vice President Kristalina Georgieva, who was a candidate for UN Secretary General, has skeletons in her closet. The study also suggests that the EU keeps appointing leadership figures without vetting them.

Yves Kugelmann, a Swiss-based journalist, published yesterday (17 October) on the website of the Foreign Policy Research Institute an article titled “A major blunder at the UN narrowly averted”. He says the article has taken him months to write. Georgieva became a candidate for the UN top job at the last minute, but has been alleged to have been campaigning for at least a year whilst still a commissioner.

The author begins by pointing out that Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov put Georgieva on the ballot for the next UN Secretary-General one week before the final decision was made. Though she lost the vote, Georgieva remains a Vice President of the European Commission, where she is responsible for the EU budget and its anti-fraud office.

“Yet serious questions have been raised about her past in Soviet-era Bulgaria, as well as her alleged present family ties with a business conglomerate that US diplomats in Sofia have described as “once the doyen of Bulgarian organised crime,” Kugelmann writes.

Kugelmann cites the names of several people who knew Georgieva well, including a former officer of the Communist secret services, who state that Georgieva was an informant of those services – an allegation she has denied.

The government of Borissov normally vets appointments and does not put forward people with ties with the former secret services. In the case of Georgieva however, Borissov himself has been quoted as saying that Georgieva “has a dossier” – a familiar term in Bulgaria referring to Communist-era informants or collaborators with the secret police.

The author also cites people who allege Georgieva’s connections with Multigroup, a business empire in the early years of Bulgaria’s transition as a market economy. As an example, he cites that Georgieva’s daughter, Dessislava Kinova, has been a long-time employee of companies run by Multigroup.

Kugelmann says that US diplomats have described Multigroup as “once the doyen of Bulgarian organised crime”, which may be an overstatement. It is true, however, that the US has an aversion for this business group, which is confirmed by official correspondence of the State Department made public by Wikileaks.

“The issues surrounding Georgieva speak to a broader problem: too often, both the United Nations and the European Union have appointed leadership figures without vetting them, let alone subjecting the process to public scrutiny”, Kugelmann argues.

He said that the Commission’s lax approach to vetting again came under scrutiny last month, when leaked documents showed that Neelie Kroes, who led the European Commission’s powerful anti-trust unit and was also vice-president of the Commission,  was a director of an offshore company based in the Bahamas.

“This case clearly illustrates the need for formal vetting procedures for any leadership positions, whether at the UN or the European Union. The fifteen ambassadors around the table of the Security Council must have full access to such information on all candidates before voting on such important matters. As for the EU, a more open, transparent and democratic nomination process for leading posts in the Commission and other important bodies will help the EU rebuild public trust and support at a critical juncture for the future of the Union”, Kugelmann concludes


(EurActiv) Russia questions Bulgaria over new candidate for UN chief


Russia and three other Security Council members on Thursday (29 September) raised questions after Bulgaria formally presented European budget Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva as its candidate to be the next UN Secretary-General.

Russia, Angola, Uruguay and Malaysia asked the government in Sofia for clarification after it described Georgieva as Bulgaria’s “sole and unique candidate” for the top post, in a letter presenting her candidacy.

Georgieva was nominated by the Bulgarian government on Wednesday (28 September), replacing UNESCO chief Irina Bokova who failed to gain strong support during a series of straw polls at the Security Council.

Bokova has said she plans to stay in the race and there are no rules forcing her to step down, even though running without a government’s backing is seen as seriously dimming chances.

“People were just looking for clarification as to whether we have one candidate or two,” said New Zealand’s Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen, who holds this month’s council presidency.

“What we have is one candidate with official endorsement of the Bulgarian government and the other candidate who is remaining in the race,” he told reporters.

The council president said he expected a joint letter with the president of the General Assembly to be issued later in the day formally presenting Georgieva as a candidate to all 193 UN member states.UN officials suggested that Russia’s objections were a possible indication that Moscow was unenthusiastic about Georgieva’s bid to become the first woman to lead the United Nations.

The joint letter will put the wheels in motion for Georgieva to appear at hearings before the UN General Assembly, which are tentatively set for Monday.

Georgieva, the 63-year-old economist who is also the European Commission’s vice president, had long been tipped as a possible candidate, but finally threw her hat in the ring following some lobbying by Germany.

Too late?

The race to replace Ban Ki-moon moves into top gear next Wednesday when the sixth straw poll will allow veto-holding council members – Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States – to use coloured ballots.

There have been five straw polls so far during which all 15 members rated the candidates by choosing to “encourage” or “discourage” them, or expressing “no opinion.”

Portugal’s former prime minister Antonio Guterres has taken the number one spot in all of the informal ballots.

Council members are facing calls to pick the first woman to be at the UN helm and to give preference to a candidate from Eastern Europe, the only region that has yet to be represented in the job.

Under UN rules, member states can put forward candidates at any stage of the selection process, even at the last minute.

But Ukrainian Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko voiced disapproval with Georgieva’s late entry into the race.

“I think she is too late,” Yelchenko told reporters. “The way it is done is not fully correct.”

Nine candidates are currently vying to become the next UN chief, including four women and five men. Six candidates are from Eastern Europe.
The council’s nominee will then be presented to the General Assembly, which endorses the choice.The Security Council is hoping to agree in the coming weeks on a nominee to replace Ban, who steps down on December 31 after two five-year terms.

(OBS) Bulgária nomeia Kristalina Georgieva como candidata a secretária-geral da ONU

(OBS) O Governo da Bulgária nomeou esta quarta-feira a comissária europeia Kristalina Georgieva como candidata ao cargo de secretária-geral das Nações Unidas, substituindo Irina Bokova.

AFP/Getty Images

O Governo da Bulgária nomeou esta quarta-feira a comissária europeia Kristalina Georgieva como candidata ao cargo de secretária-geral das Nações Unidas após Irina Bokova ter ficado na sexta posição nas últimas eleições

Segundo a agência Reuters, o anúncio foi feito pelo primeiro-ministro Boiko Borisov, que acredita que a Comissária Europeia tem maiores hipóteses de conseguir chegar ao cargo. Borisov considera que esta é “uma candidatura de sucesso”.

Na sexta-feira, a economista búlgara de 63 anos, que é apoiada pela chanceler alemã, Angela Merkel admitiu: “Sinto-me muito honrada por verificar que numerosas pessoas me estão a encorajar para ser candidata”. Durante essa conferência realizada em Nova Iorque, Georgieva afirmou que a decisão seria do governo búlgaro: “Como búlgara, direi que é uma decisão a tomar pelo governo do meu país”.

Na última votação, António Guterres, o antigo primeiro-ministro português, manteve a sua liderança tendo vencido todas as votações informais.

A próxima votação, que está agendada para a primeira semana de outubro, vai destacar pela primeira vez os votos dos membros permanentes do conselho, que têm poder de veto sobre os candidatos.

(Reuters) Bulgaria might nominate EU Commissioner Georgieva for top U.N. job

(Reuters) Bulgaria is considering nominating Kristalina Georgieva, the EU commissioner now in charge of sorting out the bloc’s budget in the face of Britain’s planned departure, for the U.N. Secretary-General job.

Officials and diplomats in Sofia, Brussels and elsewhere told Reuters there were intensive talks on Georgieva joining the race for the top U.N. job and a final decision was expected in the coming days. Ten people have already declared their candidacy.

Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister Rumiana Bachvarova, asked whether Bulgaria would nominate Georgieva, said:

“It is a decision of the prime minister and he will consider the situation. Consultations with other countries are also needed for a such a decision. For the moment there is no official proposal tendered at the government. If there be such, it can be tendered by the end of the working day on Monday.”

South Korea’s Ban Ki-moon will step down from the top U.N. job at the end of the year and former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres, who also served as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, has been the frontrunner so far.

Bulgaria’s own candidate, Irina Bokova, who is director-general of U.N. cultural organization UNESCO, has polled equal third.

Officials differed on whether she would have to quit the race to allow Sofia to nominate Georgieva, whether Bulgaria could have two candidates or other countries could propose the Bulgarian EU commissioner.

In Brussels, Martin Selmayr, the influential head of cabinet of the Commission’s head, Jean-Claude Juncker, said on Twitter: “Would be great loss for @EU_Commission. But Kristalina would make strong UNSG, and many Europeans proud. + strong signal for gender equality.”

Civil society groups and nearly a third of the 193 U.N. member states have pushed for the first woman secretary-general.

Georgieva has been discussed as a potential candidate earlier in the process but Sofia eventually put forward Bokova, who was not immediately available for comment on Sunday.

The next secret ballot for the top U.N. job — the fifth such vote — is due on Sept. 26 and a diplomatic source in Sofia said Georgieva may have the backing of Hungary, Croatia and Latvia. But the person stressed it would be odd for Sofia to have others nominating a Bulgarian national.

“The Bulgarian prime minister is in a very difficult situation… Seems he has not decided yet,” the source said of ongoing talks, which also include Bulgaria’s ruling center-right GERB party.

To be successful, any candidate must be endorsed by all five veto-wielding, permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – Russia, China, France, Britain and the United States.

The German and Hungarian government spokesmen declined to comment, as have the spokespeople for the Bulgarian and Latvian foreign ministries.

But the Latvian said that the leaders of Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Malta and Cyprus were due to dine with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin later on Sunday.

The German leader could play a big role in pushing Georgieva’s case, something the Russian foreign ministry said Merkel has already attempted.

“Not so long ago, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hangzhou (China), the German chancellor tried to discuss with Russian leaders a possible support by the Russian side of a Bulgarian candidate – different from the officially nominated one,” Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency on Sunday quoted the ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, as saying.

(Greekreporter) Bulgaria Raises New 30Km Fence on Border with Greece and Turkey


fraxtis-708_0Fearing a new influx of refugees if Ankara cancels the agreement with the European Union,Bulgaria is raising a new fence on its border with Greece and Turkey.

According to a Deutsche Welle report, in the Bulgarian border town of Rezovo there is fear that a massive flow of migrants would try to enter the country from Turkey. Bulgarian authorities have decided to extend the fence on the border with Greece and Turkey by 30 kilometers in length and 3.5 meters in height.

Alongside, Sofia seeks to secure its southern border with Greece by raising a 484 kilometers fence. Bulgarian authorities are concerned that the closing of the Greece-Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia border might force migrants to enter the EU massively through Bulgaria. Sofia also seeks to maintain good neighborly relations with Turkey because of the Turkish minority in the country.

“The challenge, however, is not only to keep the channel of communication with Ankara open, but also to ensure that Turkey will not allow the free passage of refugees to Bulgaria,” said Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, who, according to Deutsche Welle, discussed the issue with German Chancellor Angela Merkel by telephone.

Shortly afterwards it was announced that Bulgaria will receive an additional 6 million euros in aid from European funds. In addition, Frontex will contribute additional personnel, vehicles and special equipment, to aid Bulgarian authorities to deal with migrant traffickers.

The Bulgarian prime minister stated recently that each day border officials arrest 150-200 refugees who enter illegally and they are sent back to Turkey. The issue is on Borishov’s agenda and will be discussed when the prime minister will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on August 24 in Ankara.

Former head of Bulgarian border police Valeri Grigorov told DW that traffickers in the Bulgaria-Serbia border are so well organized that, “within 72 hours they can carry refugees from the Turkish-Bulgarian border to Serbia.” Grigorov said that joint Greek-Bulgarian border guard patrols are necessary to effectively control the rough border region between the two countries.