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. Policy analyses and recommendation developed during the program implementation were focused on four priority areas: military-political dimensions of security, soft-security issues, strategies and instruments for regional cooperation, and institutional development of the Balkan states. Generated policy analyses and recommendations were included in the final program publication entitled “Bulgaria for NATO – 2002”.
The final publication entitled Bulgaria for NATO – 2002 was published on-line and in print. The publication was targeted at and was distributed among foreign and security policy experts, experts on Europe, journalists, civic activists and opinion-leaders, institutions that provide analytical and information support to political bodies. The target audience also consisted of governments and agencies of NATO member-states that elaborate national positions on NATO enlargement, as well as NATO bodies and officials involved in preparing NATO Prague Summit 2002.
From June 17-25, 2002 an IRIS delegation had a series of presentations on the book "Bulgaria for NATO 2002" in Washington DC. The delegation included IRIS Director Dr. Ognyan Minchev and other key authors who contributed to the book, including Vladimir Shopov, IRIS research associate, Todor Tagarev, Director of Programs of the Centre for National Security and Defence Research, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and Maria Atanassova, NATO desk officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as Marin Lessenski, Program Director with IRIS and Milen Minchev, Radio Free Europe.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosted the first presentation. The forum, chaired by Dr. Janusz Bugajski, CSIS East Europe Program Director, was attended by representatives of the US Congress and State Department, US think tanks, including Robert Hunter, Senior Advisor at RAND, diplomats and journalists. The Bulgarian ambassador to Washington, DC, H.E. Ms. Elena Poptodorova was also present. The audience was highly impressed by the presentation of the Bulgarian experts.
A public discussion on "Democracy in Bulgaria: Political Reform and the NATO Accession Process" was hosted by the National Endowment for Democracy and started with a comprehensive presentation by Dr. Ognyan Minchev. The meeting was focused on Bulgaria′s democratic process and was chaired by Paul B. McCarthy, NED Program Officer for Southeastern Europe and Thomas W. Skladony, Senior Program Officer with the NED International Forum for Democratic Studies. H.E. Ms. Avis Bolen, H.E. Mr. Sol Polansky, former US ambassadors to Bulgaria was among the participants.
The duration of the project was one year and it was implemented with the financial support of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
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IRIS delegation also provided in-depth briefings on Bulgaria′s accession to NATO to senior staffers of the House International Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The issues that were singled out were practical measure to tackle corruption, army and security sector reforms, political and public attitudes to NATO accession, Bulgaria′s policy to contribute to NATO′s essential tasks and the war against terrorism.
During their five-day-working visit to Washington, DC Bulgarian experts also had working meetings with representatives of Department of Defense and the Department of State. The delegation had discussions on NATO′s enlargement and transformation at key institutions, including the Heritage Foundation, the Institute for Defense Analyses, the US Institute of Peace and the Hudson Institute. At the National Defense University Dr. Ognyan Minchev and Dr. Todor Tagarev met Dr. Jeffrey Simon.
The book was presented to the Bulgarian public on July 18, 2002. The event took place at the National Assembly and was attended by Mr. Solomon Passy, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Stanimir Ilchev, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Policy, Defense and Security to the National Assembly, foreign diplomats and military attaches. Members of Parliament, governmental officials, experts, NGO activists, think-tank representatives and journalists were also present. In their addresses to the audience, Mr. Passy and Mr. Ilchev expressed high appreciation of the work done by IRIS.
Dr. Ognyan Minchev, Valery Rachev, Vladimir Shopov, Todor Tagarev, Lyubomir Ivanov and Lydia Yordanova made presentations on the major concepts and ideas developed within the book. The authors’ presentations proceeded with an open discussion. Bulgarian National Television and major media covered the event.
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.
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.
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.
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.