Lilyana Pavlova, the minister in charge of the Bulgarian Presidency, has certainly been the most visible figure ahead of the stint, excluding Prime Minister Boyko Borissov who is omnipresent in Bulgarian media.
Borissov has undergone evolution recently, from a “builder of highways” which was a plan to boost his internal image, into an international personality.
Actually Borissov has undergone three major stages, the first one being the Prime Minister of humble origin and little education, but who spoke the language of the street.
Pavlova was Borissov’s right hand in building highways, and we can see some logic in Borissov entrusting her the preparation of the Presidency. Whom else could he trust more to help him materialize his next big ambition?
I have personally met Pavlova, she came to visit us at EURACTIV, and I would describe her as a warrior.
If there is one think in particular that I notice about her, it’s her courage. As everything in Bulgaria seems to be complicated, Pavlova finds shortcuts.
I was a little bit surprised that Pavlova’s ministry issued a nervous statement after I launched this website, because in my opinion she is not the kind of person to fear the press. But in Bulgaria everything is possible.
Friends reminded me about Pavlova’s background. For her, politics is a family tradition, although she didn’t exactly follow in her ancestors’ footsteps: her grandfather was a communist and a partisan (member of the communist-led guerrilla struggle against the pro-Nazi Germany power), and her father is an activist of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and a Professor in the Free University of Varna.
Pavlova’s career begins as expert with EU funds at the Ministry of Finance. At the age of 32 she entered the first Borissov government as deputy minister of Regional Development and Public works. After the incumbent minister Rossen Plevneliev was elected President in 2011, Borissov appointed her at this post. This is how Pavlova quickly became his main collaborator. After the EU funds for infrastructure which were frozen under the former PM Sergei Stanishev were unblocked, she became an emblematic figure for GERB.
At that time, BSP started attacking GERB saying that people do not eat asphalt and highways are not the solution to their problems. Pavlova managed to avoid political controversies and preserved her expert image.
It was therefore a major surprise that Borissov didn’t keep her at the same post in his present cabinet. Moreover, Pavlova had done nothing to disappoint him. So her removal from the ministry in charge of expensive constructions gave birth to rumours that Borissov would like to take distance from possible accusations of extravagant sending and poor quality of the works.
Very surprisingly, Borissov appointed Nikolay Nenkov to replace Pavlova, a very young deputy foreign minister and GERB activist, who already raised eyebrows by being given the job of regional governor of Lovech, at the age of 26 and without any proper experience.
In return, Pavlova was given a post which is hardly traditional, by EU experience. But in fact the post of Minister for the Presidency was being prepared by Meglena Kuneva, former EU commissioner, who hoped to add it to her CV.
Kuneva, who changed many parties and political projects before succeeding to become a junior partner in Borissov’s former cabinet, designed the job description for herself. But as her force was no longer represented in Parliament, Borissov first offered it to Denitsa Slateva, seen as the top EU affairs expert of BSP, and after she refused, he gave it to Pavlova.
So Pavlova returned to an area familiar to her: competing with time. One of the big questions is what will happen to Pavlova in two months’ time. She was put in charge of the preparation of the Presidency, and her “contract” should be normally terminated from 1 January. If she delivers, it won’t be surprising if we see her moving to Brussels as MEP in 2019.
Pavlova has been very courageous in accusing of corruption and by firing Miroslav Borshosh, the chief of the National Palace of Culture (NDK), the main venue of the Presidency. Speaking about the Bulgarian Presidency, a search in Bulgarian media will confirm that the vast majority of publications regarding the Bulgarian Presidency concern the rehabilitation of NDK, the delays in the works and the suspicions of corruption.
But Borshosh is someone close to Borissov and the prime minister reinstated him, which was a terible blow for Pavlova. But the accusation by Pavlova had triggered a prosecution which led to accusations, and Borshosh had to resign.