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  • Speakers on the Sixth Session of the Sofia Platform 2013 01.11.2013

    The Shy Engagement of a Historical Interlocutor: What can Europe do better in the Broader Middle East? In the second half of the 1990s the US and the EU had a major role in settling the conflicts in the Western Balkans; for many the region became the birthplace of the idea of common European foreign policy. The role of Europe in the Middle East seems to be much less ambitious, yet the EU remains a close interlocutor of the region, for reasons of history, economy and geography. Thousands of refugees leave daily their countries of origin in a pursuit of a better lot in Europe. What should be the engagement of the EU today on the ground, in the countries of the MENA region? Should it be limited only to humanitarian aid and development assistance or real political and reconciliation engagement is expected? How should the EU respond to the refugee crisis in Italy, Spain, and Bulgaria?
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  • Speakers on the Fifth Session of the Sofia Platform 2013 01.11.2013

    The Fourth Estate in Times of Transition: Role and Impact of the Arab Media of Today Did the new media started the revolution, or they just prepared it by altering the public environment in the countries of the Arab spring? No matter what the answer we would choose to give, there is no doubt that the new media improved the level of freedom of speech and changed the nature of the Arab Awakening. Today, with the political process gaining complexity, what is the new role of the pan-Arab media? What is the relationship between media and Islamic movements in power? The popular uprisings that have engulfed the Arab world present a unique opportunity to move away from state-controlled media to a more free and democratic media environment. They offer a prospect to open the gates to professional and independent media which can be critical to the creation and sustaining of democracies. What level of regulation or deregulation is needed and what could be the effects of it?
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  • Speakers on the Fourth Session of the Sofia Platform 2013 01.11.2013

    Societies in Transition, Democracy under Construction The Arab revolutions of 2011 sparked around the world, yet again, the enthusiasm for the democratic transition. Two years later we are reminded that democracy is not a state of natural equilibrium of society. Democracy is a process with usually unpredictable turnings. It is enough to look how differently the transformational movements developed in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria to realise how simplistic is to brand them all simply as one movement, whether we would call them Arab Spring or something else. The transitional landscape is becoming even more complex when we look at the recent civil society protests in other countries - Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and elsewhere. What do all these movements from the last two years telling us? Do they suggest that democratisation is the inevitable final direction but the roads to get there are different and unpredictable? Or that history and culture predetermines the different fate of the societal change? Or is it the economy that has the ultimate role? Or the geopolitical interests and interferences? Or maybe we are witnessing a new global trend of civil society demands and political participations? These will be the questions that the first panel will address, or perhaps it will just add more questions.
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  • Speakers on the Third Panel of Sofia Platform 2013 01.11.2013

    Two and a half years after the beginning of an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, Syria is gripped by an ever deepening civil war that is having a significant impact on the entire region. Regional states have emerged as driving forces in the conflict, while they are also battling to contain the impact of tensions rapidly spilling out across the wider area. The panel will explore the competing interests and ambitions of the key regional players such as Iran, Turkey, the Gulf States and Israel. Having opened the door to an ascendant Iranian-led and Shia-dominated axis, the Syria war now represents an opportunity for regional Sunni states to reverse this order. Syria has become the battleground for this broader strategic conflict, with devastating, and increasingly sectarian, effect. Other states in the region are complicating the mix with their simultaneous pursuit of more narrow interests, whether they be the strengthening of particular rebel groups, the defence of Israeli security interests or the establishment of an autonomous Kurdish region. The panel will also look at the prospects for a settlement in light of the upcoming Geneva II talks as well as Iran's recent overtures to the West.
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  • Speakers on the Second Session of Sofia Platform 2013 30.10.2013

    The Dayton Peace Agreement on Bosnia succeeded to stop the war and the ethnic cleansing but it did not equip the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina with robust state institution, and moreover it did not provide for a functioning political system. The three-ethnic state is still struggling to realise neither the expectations of its citizens, nor those of the international community.
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  • Speakers on the First Session of the Sofia Platform 2013 30.10.2013

    Session 1: Bumpy Transitions in the Middle East: Security vs. Democratisation For many years one of the problems of the Western Balkans was that the international community and media around the world perceived the situation there mainly as a security challenge. The democratization process and the economic development were left behind for the moment when real peace was achieved. With the latest developments in MENA the question arises if we are heading for a similar scenario.
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  • Sofia Platform 2013 Program 30.10.2013

    With this year’s edition of the Sofia Platform we want to take a snapshot of the current state of play in the countries of the MENA region in terms of progress of the ongoing transformations. The comparative perspective is again the core of the sessions. The experience of Central and Eastern Europe, including mistakes, wrong choices and steps not taken, has proven throughout the years to be a helpful starting point for a mutually enriching exchange of views, experience and know-how.
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  • Sofia Platform 2013 Conference 30.09.2013

    With this year’s edition of the Sofia Platform we want to take a snapshot of the current state of play in the countries of the MENA region in terms of progress of the ongoing transformations. The comparative perspective is again the core of the sessions. The experience of Central and Eastern Europe, including mistakes, wrong choices and steps not taken, has proven throughout the years to be a helpful starting point for a mutually enriching exchange of views, experience and know-how.
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  • Day one of the international conference 14.12.2012

    Day one of the international conference, jointly organized by the New Bulgarian University and the Al Jazeera Center for Studies, with the support of the Sofia Platform initiative started with a speech by the Turkish journalist and author Mustafa Akyol, largely based on his book Islam without Extremes.
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  • The Middle East & North Africa (MENA) and the Balkans: Challenges of Transformation 12.12.2012

    The Middle East & North Africa (MENA) and the Balkans: Challenges of Transformation Sofia Platform supports an international conference on challenges of transformation in the Middle East-North Africa and the Balkans in Sofia
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