“Minorities rights and minorities participation and representation in politics. National and local level governance – policies and practices” (November 2015)

Training of representatives of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament and the non-governmental sector in Iraq.

Sofia Platform in cooperation with UNDP-Iraq organised a training seminar on the topic “Minorities rights and minorities participation and representation in politics. National and local level governance – policies and practices” with the participation of representatives of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament and the non-governmental sector in Iraq. The training was conducted in Sofia, Bulgaria on 18-20 November 2015.

The training programme consisted of numerous meetings and training sessions with Bulgarian politicians, officials, researchers and NGO representatives. The Iraqi delegation gained an in-depth understanding of the Bulgarian political and social dynamics, particularly when it comes to minority rights, local governance, education and civil society. They gathered valuable insights and shared their own experience with their Bulgarian counterparts. The exchanges were highly appreciated by both the Iraqi delegation and the Bulgarian participants in the training.

The EU in a changing global environment: what next for EU’s neighbours (July 2015)

International round table discussion with think-tank representatives in the framework of EU’s Global Foreign Policy Strategy Review and the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy with the participation of HR Federica Mogherini

The review of the European Security Strategy of 2003 has started a long-awaited process that has been called for by practitioners and analysts alike. Since 2003 EU’s strategic environment has changed dramatically. The challenges we face vary both geographically and in their nature, be them climate change, cyber security, scarcity of natural resources, hybrid wars, ethnic and religious conflicts or migration. With the launch of EU’s Global Foreign Policy Review, an even bigger challenge is still standing – to guide the process accordingly and avoid its derailment in the sense of an ever-widening scope, i.e. attempting to address all issues and as a result fail to focus on those of immediate and pressing significance. Indeed, in 2015 we face a Europe that is “more connected, more contested and more complex”, but the reality remains that Europe needs to take care of its neighbourhood first and foremost, not only for the sake of its own security but also for the sake of paying its dues to the transatlantic partnership. Following this rationale, the Western Balkans, Turkey and the Eastern Neighbourhoods should be in the core of the review. In order to contribute to the process, ECFR and Sofia Platform jointly hosted think tanks from the neighbouring regions, in order to feed into the review processes of the Global Foreign Policy Strategy and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

The discussion was framed in four panels dedicated to the Black Sea region, EU’s Global Strategy Review, the Western Balkans and energy in the Wider Europe region.

 Unrewarding Crossroads: The Black Sea region amidst the EU and Russia (2014-2015)

Collection of policy briefs, published in June 2015

Popular uprisings, military occupations, frozen conflicts, power competition, threats at gas cut-offs and sanctions, (dis)integration, EU, Eurasian union – these are just a few of the popular and recurring headlines that depict in short the Black Sea region we are living in ever since the end of the Cold War. Sharing the region with two giants (EU and Russia), the Black Sea countries often have swinging priorities and policies which are shifting towards the one or the other. These choices are often based on multifaceted considerations, not always understandable to the outside observers. We would like to gather wide range of answers from across the Black Sea countries as to how these states form their foreign policy priorities vis-à-vis the EU and Russia, and compile them in an essay collection.

Twelve  policy papers with situation analyses and recommendations were published in the edited volume “Unrewarding Crossroads: The Black Sea region amidst the EU and Russia”. Each paper is dealing with one country from the region (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine). In addition, a three analyses are dedicated to wider topical issues.

 25 Years Free Bulgaria (2014-2015)25 years Free Bulgaria

National initiative under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria Rosen Plevneliev, implemented by Sofia Platform

The ambition of that initiative and its accompanying events is to celebrate the 25th anniversary since the fall of the Berlin Wall and to create the next step towards restoration the trust in the Bulgarian society that has rarely been so polarized. Dissociating democratic values and principles from the realms of the anti-human communist regime is of fundamental significance for united Europe.

Consolidating Democratic Transitions: from CEE to MENA (October 2013)

Joint training by the Balkan Trust for Democracy and the Sofia Platform for CSO Leaders from the MENA region

Part 1: Consolidating Democratic Transitions: from CEE to MENA
27-30 October 2013, Sofia, Bulgaria

Part 2: Sofia Platform Conference
31 October – 1 November, Sofia, Bulgaria

Part 3: Connecting the Civil Society: MENA-Balkans Exchage
2-6 November, Belgrade, Serbia

Sofia Platform designs tailor-made trainings and seminars according to the stages of transition and the topics of interest for countries mainly from the Middle East and North Africa region.

The Middle East & North Africa (MENA) and the Balkans: Challenges of Transformation (December 2012)

International conference organised by the Department of Mediterranean and Eastern Studies at the New Bulgarian University and Al Jazeera Center for Studies with the support of the Sofa Platform and Al Jazeera Balkans

For decades, the Balkans region has been undergoing profound transformations at various levels. The current political, economic and demographic regional setting reflects the significance of these changes and the role of national and international actors. On the other hand, the wind of change has been recently blowing on many countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen resulted in regime change, and Syria is in the waiting. Besides, political and constitutional reforms took place in a number of other countries. To discuss these developments and draw mutual lessons from transformations, the Department of Mediterranean and Eastern Studies at the New Bulgarian University in partnership with Al Jazeera Center for Studies held an international conference under the title: MENA and the Balkans: Challenges of Transformation. The conference brought together experts, academics and journalists from both regions and took place from December 13 to 15, 2012, at the New Bulgarian University in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Download the programme

Meetings between representatives of the Syrian opposition (2012)

Under the umbrella of Sofia Platform meetings of different representatives of the Syrian opposition and the Syrian minorities have taken place over the past one and a half years. One of these gatherings has been the first ever meeting between members of the Kurdish National Council (KNC), the tribes and the Syrian National Council (SNC). It resulted in a joint declaration that served as the first step towards structured dialogue between the different oppositional groups.

Another aspect of our work is looking for approaches to solve the disagreements regarding the Kurdish question in Syria. This includes talks with minorities groups and the KNC on the one hand and between the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), the liberal fractions and the Syrian Democratic Forum on the other. An additional emphasis in our work is placed on the negotiation process between the Alawites and the Kurds.