By Georgi Gotev |

Date: 13/12/2016

Bulgaria, a candidate for non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 2018-2019 period, is withdrawing its candidacy in favour of Poland, a hardliner vis-à-vis Russia, has learned.

According to documents obtained by EurActiv, on 15 November, Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Daniel Mitov filed a proposal stating that his country is withdrawing a proposal dating from 2003, for its candidacy as a non-permanent member of the Security Council for 2018-2019, and that Bulgaria would apply for the 2038-2039 period instead.

Every year, the UN General Assembly elects five of the ten non-permanent members of the UNSC, for a two-year mandate. The election is based on regional rotation. The Eastern European group can count on one seat for 2018-2019. As only Bulgaria and Poland were candidates from that region, with the Bulgarian withdrawal, Poland is guaranteed the term.

According to Mitov, Bulgaria has agreed to withdraw in exchange for Polish backing of the Bulgarian candidate for UN Secretary-General, according to an “operative decision” of the cabinet dating September 2015. A close assistant to a cabinet member who asked not to be named said, however, that such a decision couldn’t be verified.

It is also strange that Bulgaria has traded its Security Council term for alleged Polish support for the Bulgarian candidacy for UN Secretary-General. According to the procedure in which Portugal’s Antonio Guterres was elected, the candidates passed a series of votes in the 15-member Security Council, in which Poland is not a member.

Bulgarian Presidency invoked

A draft press release by the Bulgarian government, seen by EurActiv, makes no mention of Poland, but says the decision takes into account other priorities, such as the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, in the first half of 2018.

Diplomats told EurActiv that Mitov’s real motivation has been to deliver on ‘transatlantic’ requests from the outgoing US administration that Bulgaria should withdraw so that Poland, a staunch US ally, should get the UN role.

Reports indicate that the outgoing US government had little trust in Bulgaria. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who leads the centre-right GERB party, recently resigned following the victory of Rumen Radev, a Socialist-backed candidate, during the 13 November presidential election run-off.

His resignation provoked a government crisis. But Borissov is still prime minister, pending the appointment of a transition cabinet, which will be in charge until early general elections are held, possibly by the end of March.