Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov
With the first wave of Bulgaria’s new ambassadors-designate named, and with most coming from within the ranks of Foreign Ministry career diplomats, it is clear that the changes at headquarters at home will be as significant as they are at embassies abroad.
Both of Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov’s deputies have been proposed as ambassadors – Konstantin Dimitrov in London and Dimitar Tsanchev at European Union headquarters – as has the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Radi Naidenov, set to become Bulgaria’s ambassador in Berlin.
More than 90 per cent of the ambassadors nominated by the Cabinet on January 25 are career diplomats.
Ten are headed for other EU member states, six for countries in South East Europe and two at the United Nations while one has been nominated for the embassy in South Africa which is to play a pivotal role among the countries at the south of the continent.
The nominations, of which more are expected in the next three weeks, represent the wholesale campaign to remake the Foreign Ministry, including ridding its top echelons of former communist-era State Security collaborators while Mladenov also repeatedly has underlined his intention to fast-track young talent.
By definition, the appointment of so many senior officials will clear away some career bottlenecks at the ministry. Further, a number of old-order Foreign Ministry employees are due for retirement in the coming year.
Once approved by President Rossen Plevneliev and consented to by their host countries, the appointments of the new ambassadors also will bring clarity in a number of foreign capitals where for several months, Bulgaria’s embassies have been presided over by charges d’affaires pending a resolution to the struggle over what the local media has called the "diplomat-agents".
Reports said that there had been wide consultations about the nominations. Among the political appointments, one notably does not come from ruling party circles – General Nikola Kolev, former armed forces chief of staff and long a close associate of former president Purvanov.
The career diplomats include some seasoned envoys, an example being Stefan Tavrov, headed to the UN and who in his earlier career has served in more than one post as an ambassador.
(A full of the 24 nominations has been posted here.)
"The names proposed are those of people who have proven track records and professionalism. Through them, I want to show how the Diplomatic Service should look. This is the beginning of a process that the Government has the will to follow through to the end, to achieve one of its main priorities - quality diplomacy that works for Bulgarian business and citizens," Mladenov said after the Cabinet approved the nominations.