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.
Update (27 October):
The Foreign Policy Research Institute has withdrawn the above-cited article by Yves Kugelmann from its website. On Wednesday (26 October) it published the following retraction:
“On October 17, 2016, we posted an article by Yves Kugelmann titled, “A Major Blunder at the UN Narrowly Averted.” The article contained assertions about Bulgaria’s European Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva. Upon investigation and further review, we do not stand behind the article and we retract it. It was removed from our website on October 25, 2016.”
On 1 November supporters of Georgieva told EurActiv that the Foreign Policy Research Institute had unpublished the article.