After months of denying she was seeking to join the race for United Nations secretary-general, European Union budget chief Kristalina Georgieva accepted the nomination for UN boss from her native Bulgaria on Wednesday.
While supplanted by another candidate, Georgieva reportedly ran a covert campaign for the secretary-general position, which included a long weekend at the shadowy Bilderberg conference in June. More recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was reported to have pitched Georgeiva as a candidate to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 Conference in China.
In February, Georgieva announced she would not enter the race for secretary-general. The same day, Bulgaria nominated Irina Bokova, the head of the UN cultural organization UNESCO. Bokova, who has close links to the former Bulgarian Communist Party, was said to be a favorite of Putin, but she lacked support from Bulgaria’s current western allies.
In a series of straw poll votes, Bokova failed to place any higher than third. On Monday, Bokova came in sixth place, prompting Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to remove her as Sofia’s nominee and insert Georgieva. Shortly thereafter, Georgieva released a statement saying, after careful consideration, she accepted the nomination.
“I am deeply honored by the decision of the government of my country to put my name forward for the post of secretary-general of the United Nations,” Georgieva said in a statement Wednesday. “After careful consideration I have decided to accept the nomination, mindful of the great responsibility that the office bears and of the opportunities as well as the challenges it presents for contributing to making our world safer, stronger and more just and prosperous for the present and our future generations.”
Later Wednesday, Brussels announced European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had granted Georgieva one month of unpaid leave to stand as a UN secretary-general candidate. EU rules preclude European commissioners from searching for other jobs.
Earlier this year, Georgieva received an invitation to the 2016 Bilderberg conference, which was held June 9-12 in Dresden, Germany. Georgieva’s appearance at the Bilderberg conference caught the eyes of European press, some which reported she was there to promote her unofficial candidacy for UN chief.
The annual Bilderberg conference is a meeting of European and North American elites from businesses and politics. The conferences are closed to the public, and the Bilderberg Group has a reputation among some of its critics as a body of kingmakers.
During this year’s conference, European news publication EurActiv reported Jose Manuel Barroso, the former president of the European Commission, promoted Georgieva at Bilderberg as the next secretary-general. Barroso is a member of the Bilderberg Group’s steering committee.
EurActiv also reported Barroso traveled to Bulgaria two days prior to the conference to lobby Borisov to change Sofia’s nomination for secretary-general. Following the conference, Barroso accepted a job at Goldman Sachs, which has ignited a separate scandal in Brussels over influence peddling.
In response to press coverage of Georgieva’s appearance at Bilderberg, European Commission spokespeople said the EU budget chief was focused on her job. Deputy Chief Spokesperson Mina Andreeva said it was a conspiracy theory that Georgieva went to Bilderberg to pursue the job of UN secretary-general.
However, as Bokova’s campaign began to falter, Brussels responded to speculation about Georgieva’s candidacy by announcing the EU budget chief would make a strong secretary-general. Around the same time, media reports surfaced about Merkel lobbying Putin to support Georgieva’s candidacy, and Borisov set a date to reconsider Bulgaria’s nomination.
As the race currently stands, former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres is the frontrunner to become the next secretary-general. Guterres has placed first in all five of the straw polls conducted thus far.
But, according to an unofficial rotation, Eastern Europe is due to secure the secretary-general position for the first time. Likewise, some groups are calling for there to be the first woman secretary-general in the history of the UN. Both factors will likely boost Georgieva’s candidacy, but the Bulgarian diplomat may struggle to obtain support from Russia.
The next round of voting is due to take place on Oct. 5. During that poll, permanent Security Council members must reveal whom they support, as well as whom they intend to veto.
Current Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is scheduled to leave office at the end of the year. His replacement is due to takeover on Jan. 1, 2017.
FreeManPost requested an interview with Georgieva while in Dresden. The request was denied.