Bulgaria Govt Sending Mixed Signals about Next EU Commissioner Pick
Bulgarian officials have been making conflicting statements as to the nomination of the country's next representative at the European Commission.
The office has remained vacant for more than six weeks after Kristalina Georgieva quit as Vice President for Budget and Human Resources to take a CEO job at the World Bank.
Earlier this week, caretaker Prime Minister Ognyan Gerdzhikov insisted a decision on who would succeed Georgieva should be taken as soon as possible to avoid any hardship for Bulgaria as it prepares to take over the rotating EU presidency in January 2018.
Gerdzhikov told bTV an expert, non-partisan figure has to be picked without waiting for a new government to be formed, possibly in April after the March 26 early election. He pledged to discuss the issue with President Rumen Radev, who appointed the interim cabinet late last month.
He added it would not be a "good sign" if no EU Commissioner designate is offered by Bulgaria, a likely scenario if the country slides into political chaos after the election and parties fail to forge a new governing coalition.
But his deputy Denitsa Zlateva, who is in charge of organizing the EU presidency and coordinating other EU-related issues, made clear on Saturday the caretaker cabinet was "not ready" for a European Commissioner nomination.
The issue has not been discussed at cabinet meetings, she told Bulgara On Air, a private broadcaster. She argued there could be no consensus among parties under the conditions of an ongoing election campaign.
Zlateva recalled that EU Commission Vice President Jean-Claude Juncker had shown "understanding" about the situation and had made it clear there was no need to hurry.
Possible EU Commissioner picks' names mentioned by various media reports over the past months include Rumen Radev's predecessor, President (2012-2017) Rosen Plevneliev, and former Deputy PM and EU Commissioner Meglena Kuneva. Speculation about the latter was fuelled by her move early this week to rule herself out of the parliamentary election, giving up a lawmaker seat to "give way to young generations".
Both Kuneva and Plevneliev have so far denied the reports.
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