Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov has voiced public support for Roumyana Zheleva, whose performance at a stormy confirmation hearing by a European Parliament committee has raised doubts about whether her nomination will go forward.
The committee that held the January 12 2010 hearing has made a formal request to European Commission President Jose Barroso and to EP lawyers to respond to questions arising from allegations that Zheleva violated EU and Bulgarian rules on disclosure of business interests. Zheleva denies any wrongdoing.
Apart from controversy in the committee about her alleged failure to properly disclose business interests, Zheleva also was criticised for being vague in her responses to questions about her plans for her proposed portfolio, international co-operation, humanitarian aid and emergency response.
Borissov, speaking on January 13, said that he would await the European Commission’s response.
At the same time, he said that there are other options for the post, Dnevnik reported from Parliament.
He said that he had spoken with European People's Party colleagues who believed that Zheleva had done very well in her hearing, Bulgarian news agency Focus reported Borissov as saying.
These colleagues had expressed surprise at the way that Zheleva had been attacked, Borissov said. There were commissioners from other countries that were "tragic" but their countries and their MEPs did not create such problems, he said.
Borissov hit out at the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the National Movement for Stability and Progress – two of the parties that had been in the tripartite coalition government that he defeated in elections in 2009 – for their campaign against Zheleva.
"They should not do things like that to women," Borissov said.
He said that he wanted to thank the socialists for their "subversive activity".
"I will joke with the saying no devils are protecting the Bulgarian cauldron in hell because Bulgarians are pushing themselves inside," Borissov said.
All that her opponents could come up with against Zheleva had been some "sham conflict of interests in a company she has never worked in," he said. By no means did all of Europe endorse this allegation, Borissov said.
Asked whether he had made a mistake in nominating Zheleva, he said that he did not think that he had, but there was a Plan B.
In all the time that he had worked with Zheleva, he had no knowledge of her being involved in alleged conflicts of interest, he said.