European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso called on Bulgaria's new prime minister to unify the EU's poorest country after days of protests over the appointment of a media mogul as state security chief.
Plamen Oresharski, who has been in office for only three weeks, was in Brussels for talks just days after he was forced to apologise for the "mistake" which plunged the country into fresh political turmoil.
"I've made this point very clearly to the prime minister, our concerns. We know that the situation from a political point of view is polarised in Bulgaria," Barroso said at a joint press conference with the Bulgarian premier.
The European Commission, the executive branch of the 27-nation EU, had an "obligation" to check the progress of democracy in Bulgaria, Barroso said.
"That's why I also have urged the prime minister to consult widely on key appointments, especially in the areas of the fight against corruption and organised crime," Barroso said.
Oresharski, who was installed as the techocratic head of a Socialist-backed government following elections last month, said he had given Barroso "assurances" that he would try to resolve the situation in Bulgaria.
Bulgarians took to the streets two weeks ago after Oresharski named Delyan Peevski, an inexperienced but well-connected 32-year-old media boss, as head of the powerful national security agency DANS.
Oresharski apologised and rushed through a reform package, but it did little to diminish the suspicions of protesters that he is controlled by the same old shady and powerful oligarchs behind the scenes in Bulgaria.
The protests come just four months after nationwide demonstrations against rising poverty, corruption and high utility bills forced the previous conservative government to resign.