The project is an effort at supporting reformist thinking and reformist activities across the region of the Black Sea through identifying and encouraging reform-oriented, influential young policy-makers, civil servants and civil society activists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine into an effective and viable network. This network will gradually come into position to influence policies and propel institutional and societal changes towards more European-style democracy, accountability and transparency in the area.
The project was initiated by the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) in Sofia and the Centre for Applied Policy Research (C.A.P) of the University of Munich in partnership with the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. This is its pilot year, and, overall, it is planned to span over at least five years.
The activities for the pilot year are as follows. The initial group of Young Reformers will be formed via selection based on recommendations from respected partners of IRIS and C.A.P in the Black Sea Region and Western Europe. Once selected, the future Fellows will take part in April 2010 in a conference in Varna, on Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast, where they will identify current problems and discuss their solutions within the general thematic area of ‛Security, Development and Regional Cooperation in the Black Sea Area.‛ Then they will go back home and engage in preparing short papers and in monthly discussions over the internet about the identified problems and their tackling. In October 2010, the Fellows will gather for a second conference in Berlin or Brussels, where they will have the opportunity to meet European Union decision-makers and officials and present to them their ideas about how the EU can better contribute to reform and democratisation in the Black Sea region. Thus a direct link will be established between the Black Sea Young Reformers and their EU counterparts. The Fellows will then be awarded certificates and will become officially part of the Black Sea Young Reformers Fellowship.
The following cycles of the project will see the next groups of Young Reformers selected and organised into discussions and conferences. A link with the Fellows who previously graduated will be maintained by the formal inclusion of all into an Alumni Network of Black Sea Fellows and through regular communication and exchange of ideas. The EU representatives will also regularly contribute to the development of strategies for democratisation and reform which the Black Sea Fellows formulate. Thus a growing and viable network among young open-minded people across the continent will emerge, capable of offering policy solutions and influencing decision-making.
April 19, 2010 IRIS organises the pilot Black Sea Young Reformers conference in Varna
On April 15-18, 2010, the Institute for Regional and International Studies, Sofia, and the Centre for Applied Policy Research, Munich, organised the first conference that was part of the pilot issue of the project Black Sea Young Reformers Fellowship (BSYRF) - ‛Security, Development and Regional Cooperation in the Black Sea Area‛. The event took place in the Black Sea resort of Golden Sands near Varna, Bulgaria, and was realised in partnership with the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation (a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States) and Germany’s Robert Bosch Stiftung.
Between March 31 - April 3 the international conference "Agents of Reform in the Black Sea Region: National Agendas and International Assistance" was held in the Georgian city of Batumi, organized by the Institute for Regional and Inernational Studies as part of the Black Sea Young Reformers Fellowship 2011. This Fellowship is a project of IRIS in partnership with the CAP of the Munich University, sponsored by the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation (a program of the German Marshall Fund of the US) and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. The project aims at bringing young professionals, policy executives and experts into a group of debating and advocating for the most pressing policy issues of the Black Sea region in terms of security, development and regional cooperation. The debates of Batumi started with four framework presentations, made by prominent policy analysts of the region - Prof. Ghia Nodia of Georgia, Dr. Franz Lothar Altmann from Germany, Olexandr Sushko from Ukraine and Dr. Serdar Sayan from Turkey. The debates continued on the basis of the position paper, deposited by the organizers of IRIS.
"Agents of Reform in the Black Sea Region: National Agendas and International Assistance" - IRIS Position Paper for the Conference of the Black Sea Young Reformers Fellowship, Batumi 2011. You can download it in pdf here.
The main goal of IRIS in assessing the NPP Belene project is aimed at developing a comprehensive picture of the liabilities and the effects which the construction of this facility will have on Bulgaria’ energy market, on the sustainability of the energy system and the energy consumption in the country for the next 3-5 decades and on the functioning of the Bulgarian political and public administration system in mid-term perspective. The IRIS analyses will also particularly focus on the larger strategic and security context that NPP Belene will create in completing the monopolization of the Bulgarian energy system by Russia – bringing it under total Russian control.
The overall goal of the proposed project was to assure the continuity and sustainability of the larger BSYRF effort by establishing an Alumni Association of the programme’s graduates, allowing them to meet on a regular basis, discuss current issues and take common action to solve those issues by means of joint advocacy efforts and project development.
The overall goal of the project is to enhance and institutionalise interaction among the most influential think tanks in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine in order to arrive at common positions and launch common initiatives on improving international security and cooperation in the Black sea region as well as to support all major efforts by national governments and international organisations to this end.
The overall goal of the project was to extend and empower the network of young reformers of the Black Sea countries, launched by the pilot BSYRF project in 2010, as an instrument to serve a double-edged purpose: first, to provide a platform for the young reformers to communicate and advocate to the institutions of the EU the interests of their countries for closer cooperation with Europe; second, to open new channels of influence for the European policy makers to develop and implement an overall strategy for multilateral cooperation between the EU institutions and the policy communities of the Black Sea countries.
In October 2006 IRIS initiated the project Bulgaria in the Euro-Atlantic Security System with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria.
The project was aimed at advancing recommendations for improving institutional performance in Bulgaria, Georgia and Moldova, based on comparative analysis of a selected cluster of institutions mirroring the state of the society and governance by employing the ‘democratic auditing’ methodological approach. Institutional analysis, public opinion surveys and case studies of best practices were employed to elicit alternative policy solutions.
Between May 2004 and May 1 2005 IRIS International Security and Democratization Program implemented the “Networking for the Black Sea Region Stabilization and Integration” program. The proposed program built on the achievements of GMFUS and IRIS’ own efforts in the Black Sea region. The program was aimed at assisting with developing and launching an overall policy strategy for integrating the Black Sea countries into the Euro-Atlantic mainstream.
The project aimed at evaluating the civic organizations′ attitudes, needs and capacity with respect to civic participation in the decision making in Ukraine and Moldova and also at identifying specific competencies needed for successful civic mobilization and participation in the decision making.
Between May 1, 2003 and May 1, 2004 IRIS International Security and Democratization Program implemented the program entitled Anchoring the Black Sea Countries to the Euro-Atlantic Mainstream: Policies, Mechanisms and Multilateral Networks. The Program was aimed at promoting strategies, policies and actions that would ultimately anchor the countries of the Black Sea region firmly to the Euro-Atlantic mainstream.
On May 1, 2003 IRIS International Security and Democratization Program started the implementation of the project entitled Benefiting from Enlarging NATO to Southeast Europe: Promoting the New NATO Agenda. The Program was aimed at providing assessment and policy alternatives of how Bulgaria and Romania, in their new function as NATO members, would translate the new mission of the Alliance into regional policy action. The program offered recommendations that capitalized on the experience of the two countries in conducting reforms in order to maximize the effectiveness of stability and security building in the region. The program aimed at contributing to increased understanding of how enlarged and transformed NATO would respond to the 21st century security challenges to provide a security arc for its members.
IRIS International Security and Democratization Program implemented the project entitled “Promoting Security and Regional Cooperation: The Perspectives of NATO Enlargement and EU Association of Southeastern Europe Towards the Year 2002” started on May 1, 2001. Project aimed primarily at providing IRIS with the necessary resources and strengthening of its capacity to actively contribute to the process of policy formulation and implementation concerning Southeastern Europe.
The project aimed to set priorities and clearly define the goals of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe. It provided analytical assistance and policy growth/development in the fields of regional security systems institutional development and infrastructure economic development.