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Top jobs: Borissov ‘holds his horses’ at EU summit

Borissov speaks to journalists on 28 May 2019 [Georgi Gotev]

By Georgi Gotev

This is a doorstep fresh from the EU summit where the future top jobs are discussed, in which I asked most of the questions:

I asked Borissov who will be the next Bulgarian Commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva or Mariya Gabriel. He said it was too early to comment, and went on commending Mariya Gabriel for her election campaign (he called her Mariya Nedelcheva by her maiden name).

I asked him why in this case Mariya Gabriel said she was going to take her MEP seat, leaving Bulgaria without a Commissioner until 1 November.

“Why do you imagine you know more than I do”, he answered.

He also said that at the EPP pre-summit, he had been applauded for having won “over the PES leader in a direct competition”. Sergei Stanishev, former leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, is the leader of the Party of European Socialists.

I asked him about the low turnout in Bulgaria. He answered “33% – it’s about the same for all European elections in Bulgaria”. He said that from all EU leaders, he had been the only one against holding the elections on 26 May (24 May being a public holiday in Bulgaria).

I asked Borissov what is Bulgaria’s position regarding the Visegrad proposal Maros Sefcovic to be Commission President. He said:

“We will hear many names. It’s a fact, that Mariya Nedelcheva, and Kristalina Georgieva, and Sefcovic, and Michel Barnier, and I could add 5 or 6 more…”, before being interrupted by an unrelated question about Viktor Orban.

Borissov praised Orban as a “real anti-communist” and said that those who wanted to kick the Hungarian PM out of EPP “are now on third, fourth and fifth position following the European elections”, while Orban won by over 50%.

“With Viktor we are friends from kids. From 20 years”, said Borissov, who will be 60 in three weeks’ time.

“It’s normal that the socialists push for their candidate. It’s normal that we fight for our candidacy. In the next hours a lot of things will be said, basically the announcements will be made, and after that the real negotiations will begin. The one who speaks first will lose. It will be a race and the one who is able to hold his horse [will win]”. He compared this with his European election campaign. Indeed, Borissov had a very strong last campaign week.

“I spoke in the last days with at least 10 [EU] leaders. Every body calls to see what you are thinking, with some we are more close, with others we have business projects, some are more integrated, like Visegrad, or Cyprus and Greece, then Macron, Pedro. I told to all of them – it’s very important that the European labour agency be in Sofia. Anyone who wants to be closer to me should first vote for the Labour agency. And there is the European Prosecutor, some ask for our support, namely France, some for the Commission, other for the Parliament, or for the [EU] foreign minister. Enough for today.”

When I asked him will he talk to us again later today, he answered negatively.

I heard from his staff that his flight may take off at 8 a.m. tomorrow, and that he personally instructed the pilots not to drink.

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