The Regional Program of the School of Politics was founded in 2003. Its primary purpose is to promote active exchange of experience and ideas for cooperation and democratic development in Southeast Europe. The Program is implemented in cooperation with schools from the Network of Schools of Political Studies, established under the auspices of the Council of Europe, whose main objective is to support democracy, human rights, rule of law and European values in the transition countries of Southeastern Europe, Russia and the European CIS countries.
Over the past 7 years, more than 200 young political and civic leaders from Southeastern Europe – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro – have been trained in the Regional Program “Political Debate in Southeastern Europe.”
The Regional Program seeks to promote the development of democratic political process in the Western Balkans, and to provide a forum for prominent young political and civic leaders from the region to study and analyze, in a constructive dialogue, the underlying values and principles of Western democracy and human rights, as well as the responsibilities of public and political leaders for transparent government consistent with the law.
To develop skills of responsible and ethical leadership and good governance among young political and civic leaders from countries in Southeast Europe by preparing them for management of democratic processes and building of an active civil society in their countries
To promote transnational cooperation and constructive dialogue between political activists, experts, academicians, political parties, civil society and media in Southeast Europe region as key to political, social, and economic problems
Through participants’ training and research initiatives, to promote the development of models of positive reforms in countries that may become models for positive development in the region
To create an active network of transnational political and civic leaders prepared to participate in public debate and to work towards the development and establishment of best practices in conflict resolution in the region, human rights, minority integration, regional security and regional cooperation
Participants and Selection Criteria
Each year, between 25 and 35 young political and civic leaders are selected for participation from the countries in the region – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Romania, Serbia. The program includes an equal number of participants from each country. Participants are representatives of political parties, civil society and NGOs in the region. The required minimal age for participants is 25 years, and they must have at least 2 years of professional experience in the areas chosen for the program.
Main Activities of the Program
Training seminars and conferences
Meetings with political leaders and representatives of official authorities at national, regional and local level in the host country
Public discussion of economic, political and social issues of importance to the region
Individual and group projects of participants in the Program, such as reports on the design and implementation of policies, public opinion research
The Program consists of a series of three 5-day training seminars held between May and November each year. Each country of those participating in the Program hosts a seminar at some point of time. Sessions include lectures and presentations, public hearings, working in small groups, interactive exercises. Speakers and moderators in the
Program are well-known scientists, experts, former and current political leaders, representatives of official authorities of Bulgaria, Europe and USA.
Visits to various municipal and national institutions in the host country are organized within each seminar: ministries, national parliaments, town halls. Thus, participants have the opportunity to communicate directly with existing politicians and learn how the government and political parties operate at different levels.
Upon successful completion of the Program, participants receive credits and Certificate of Specialization in Political Management from the New Bulgarian University and the Council of Europe. Credits may be used for further training in the masters program at NBU.
Throughout the years, the Regional Program for Southeastern Europe has been supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, Washington, “East East: Partnership Beyond Boarders” Program, the Open Society Institute, the Council of Europe, the Organisation Internacionale De La Francophonie, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, and the Freedom House.