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Sofia Platform – Bridging Europe and the Middle East – Sofia, 5-6. Mai, 2011

May 4, 2011 by · No comments

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Jointly organized by the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Council on Foreign Relations, the Sofia Platform will aim to bring together non-governmental organizations, journalists, politicians and practitioners from Europe, the Middle East and the United States for an in-dept conversation about the lessons learned, and not learned, in the transition. The goal of the meeting would be to provide an inventory of ideas, knowledge and experience that may be relevant to countries in the Middle East, should they choose to use it.

The historical and cultural context, the political realities and traditions of the Arab World are quite different from the Central and Eastern Europe of the 1990s and one should be careful to draw parallels. What needs to be done however is to look at the lessons that transition in Central and Eastern Europe has taught us, and the lessons we have failed to learn.

Perhaps the biggest lesson learned from the transition of Central and Eastern Europe is that you can’t impose change from the outside, but it would be nice to have a resource to learn from and avoid making at least some of the mistakes that others have made before you.

The Middle East is facing a critical junction between reform and transformation. Popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt are fermenting a new reality that is still difficult to gauge. One thing is clear – what happens in both countries will to a large extent shape the future of the entire region. Driven by people power the Middle East has embarked on its own transition. The energy, the lust for freedom, the drive for reforms is there, but very much as in the early days of 1989 it is not clear where this transition will lead.

Central and Eastern European countries can offer their lessons learnt in the reform process to the Middle East nations. CEE have vivid experience in rewriting constitutions, preparing and holding elections in societies that had been deprived from pluralistic political practices.

The agenda of the platform, as well as a live stream of the event are available at

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