The Regional Program of the Bulgarian School of Politics “Dimitry Panitza” for North Africa aims at strengthening the process of democratization of these countries, which are in a region, where political reforms and changes take place. One of the main activities of the School in this direction is to share its almost 14-year experience in training of the new generation of political and civic leaders in working with multi-party democratic environment, where principles of good governance, rule of law and informed debate are fundamental. In defining its priorities for working with closer and more distant south neighbours of Europe, BSoP follows the developmental strategies of the South Neighbourhood of the European Union, the European Commission and the Council of Europe.
The Program started in 2010 with the organization of a special training for representatives of political parties, state authorities and non-governmental sector from seven French-speaking African countries. This training was the first one of its kind and aimed at supporting the establishment of schools of politics in Africa. As a result of this initiative, the Citizenship and Political School in Yaoundé in Cameroun was created. One year later, North Africa was put into absolutely new political situation – after mass civic revolutions which eliminated dictatorship regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and encouraged the political reforms in countries as Jordan and Morocco. At the beginning of 2012, BSoP along with the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, Demo Finland and the Tunisian Centre of Mediterranean and International Studies, supported the establishment of the Tunisian School of Politics, which is the first school of politics in North Africa. In 2013, BSoP became the first international strategic partner of the Citizenship School of Political Studies in Morocco.
The activities of the Bulgarian School of Politics “Dimitry Panitza” for supporting the transition to multi-party democracy of Northern African countries are being supported on a project basis by the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, the Council of Europe and the Programme “Strengthening the Democratic Reforms in the South Neighborhood”, financed by the European Union and implemented by the Council of Europe.
The Summer Academy for Building Democracy through Cultural Diplomacy is a joint initiative of the Bulgarian School of Politics “Dimitry Panitza”, the Citizenship School of Political Studies in Morocco and the Tunisian School of Politics. The Academy took place in Bulgaria, from 4 to 8 June 2014. It was supported by the Programme “Strengthening the Democratic Reforms in the South Neighborhood”, financed by the European Union and implemented by the Council of Europe.
The Academy is a natural continuation of the efforts of the BSoP “Dimitry Panitza” to support its partners in Tunisia and Morocco, and to share with them its experience and methodology for training of young leaders and to sustain their efforts for institutional capacity building during the transition to multi-party democracy. The goal of the event is to stimulate the debate and the active exchange of ideas for democratic development and good practices among representatives of the political and civic sector of both sides of the Mediterranean. It is also focused on improving their skills to work in multi-cultural environment and on building a network of young leaders from political parties and civil society from the three countries.
During 5 days, 18 young political and civic leaders from Bulgaria, Morocco and Tunisia were trained together and discussed topics as multi-cultural and religious differences and the democratic process, Internet-democracy, and participation of women and young people in politics. Among the lecturers were Mr. Kristian Vigenin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria, H.E. Ms. Latifa Akharbach, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco, Mr. Marco Pelucchi, Programme Director TNS opinion, Mr. Salvatore Saguès, expert in “Peace, Democracy and Human Rights” Department, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, Mr. Michael Remmert, Deputy Director, Policy Planning Department, Council of Europe, Ms. Amina Bouayach, Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights, Mr. Henri Pigeat, journalist and former Director of France Press News Agency.
All participants in the Summer Academy are alumni of the National Programs of one of the three schools and are members of the global alumni network of the schools of political studies under the auspices of the Council of Europe.
The Citizenship School of Political Studies in Morocco was established in December 2012 with the aim to support Moroccan leaders who actively participate in public and political life. The School was created by 40 national and regional non-governmental organizations, which work in different areas of democratic government and human rights, and has being supported by the Council of Europe. The focus of its activities is on training of young Moroccan leaders in the areas of national public policies and on topic related to challenges in applying the new Constitution of the country, adopted in 2011. The School strives at creating conditions for debate, bridging theoretical knowledge and practical skills, and making political processes more accessible and understandable to all.
BSoP “Dimitry Panitza” and CSPS established their partnership within the framework of their membership in the Network of Schools of Political Studies under the auspices of the Council of Europe. At the end of 2013, an agreement for strategic partnership between both organizations was signed. The main goals are provision of methodological and institutional support from BSoP to assist CSPS’s capacity building, exchange of experience on different topics of democratic development, as well as continuous sharing of experience with other countries in Western Africa. BSoP is the first international partner of CSPS.
As the first step towards implementation of the agreement, at the beginning of 2014 representatives of BSoP visited Morocco and had initial meetings with the CSPS’s team, representatives of the Consultative Council of the School, and members of the Board and the General Assembly. As a result of these meetings, the priority areas for future common activities were outlined, such as support to CSPS in developing mechanism for work with political parties, training needs analysis of the School’s target groups and possibilities for joint initiatives on bilateral and multilateral principle. In March 2014, the Director of CSPS – Mr. Youssef Laaraj, was a special guest speaker at the BSoP’s National Program. He shared his ideas on development of bilateral relationships between the European Commission and Morocco in the context of global policy for cooperation between Europe and the countries from the South Mediterranean.
Tunisian School of Politics was launched on 26 February 2012. At the beginning of 2013, it was accepted as a member of the Network of the Schools of Political Studies under the auspices of the Council of Europe. The main goal of TSoP’s activities is to train the new generation of political and civic leaders of post-revolution Tunisia. The creation of TSoP was supported by the Tunisian Centre of Mediterranean and International Studies, the Bulgarian School of Politics “Dimitry Panitza”, the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy and Demo Finland. The initiative was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria. The main role of BSoP is to provide methodological assistance to the Tunisian School of Politics and to help in capacity building of the young organization.
In 2012 and 2013, BSoP implemented three projects through which it provided its colleagues from Tunisia with its methodology for practical training of political and civic leaders, with the main focus on building a selected group of skills necessary for successful and inclusive work in multi-party environment. For that purpose, the BSoP’s expert team did a training needs analysis of participants in TSoP’s programs, developed two Trainers’ Manuals, properly adapted to the needs of the Tunisian School, and held a series of training of trainers in Bulgaria for the TSoP’s team. The trainings were conducted during seminars from the BSoP National Program and included meetings with lecturers, small group moderators, the School’s team, participants in the current National Program and alumni, as well as with members of the Consultative Council of the School. The projects were funded by the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and the Open Society Institute, London.
Training for Representatives of Western and Central Africa
In July 2010 representatives of seven African countries – Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Guinea, Morocco and Mauritania, attended a special program aimed at supporting establishment of schools of politics in Africa. The goals of the Program were to transfer to the participants the unique experience of the Bulgarian School of Politics with training representatives of different political parties and civic organizations in tolerance, pluralism and informed debate, and to support establishing a school of politics in one or a group of several African countries, which could encourage development of consensus thinking, leadership and skills for effective government among African politicians, parliamentarians and representatives of civil society.
The participants in the Program were representatives of political parties, administrative bodies, civic organizations and media from different African countries. Selection of the participants was made by the Organisation Internacionale de la Francophonie. All participants were students of the 5th Summer University for Democracy at the Council of Europe.
The Program included special presentations how the Bulgarian School of Politics works – of the team, of the small group moderators, of the Class 2010 of the National Program, as well as of the School’s alumni, as well as meetings with Bulgarian politicians – president Dr. Zhelyu Zhelev, Mr. Svetoslav Malinov – member of the European Parliament, and the members of parliament Ms. Monika Panayotova, Ms. Yuliana Koleva and Mr. Mihail Nikolovski. The participants discussed with experts from Bulgarian institutions – Administration of the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with professors from the New Bulgarian University. They had meetings with the directors of IFAG, CREFECO and the French Cultural Institute in Sofia, and a dinner with the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of South Africa in Sofia Her Excellency Sheila Camerer.
The Program was funded by the Organisation Internacionale de la Francophonie.