Bulgaria’s new EC commissioner designate responsible for international co-operation, humanitarian aid and crisis response, Kristalina Georgieva, seemed to impress her inquisitors in the EU Parliament during her confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
Several MEPs congratulated Georgieva’s command of her new proposed portfolio, including British Labour MEP Michael Cashman, who praised Georgieva’s “impressive intellectual capacity” and recommended that “we should move swiftly to the positive confirmation process”.
During three hours of questioning, Georgieva stressed that her role as the EC commissioner should be one of “neutrality, independence and impartiality” but that certain unhelpful governments could be exposed if they impeded access to humanitarian supplies.
On the question of Gaza, she said that perhaps the Israeli authorities could be pressured to cite a list of commodities that could not be brought into Gaza. She broadly opposed military intervention to protect humanitarian workers, citing her belief that most people who work in difficult situations prefer not to be guarded by the military.
Georgieva conceded that, although Europeans could be proud of their role in helping Haiti’s earthquake victims – praising their “unmatched generosity” – a more co-ordinated and visible European response was needed on the ground.
Georgieva said that when the call came to stand for the post of EC commissioner, following the decision by Bulgaria’s former foreign secretary, Roumyana Zheleva, to step down after her underwhelming performance on January 12, 2010, she had taken it as a “call of duty”.
She also promised her 89-year-old mother, whose birthday was the same day as her confirmation hearing, February 3, that she would learn French if she was accepted into the post.