“These are very difficult and worrying times. None of us have ever experienced such a challenge. Consequently we have had to place on hold all events at the Ratiu Foundation, Ratiu Democracy Centre, and our Ratiu Forum. The Forum and collaboration with LSE was proving to have a serious impact, especially the Teaching of History Workshop held in February. Our Workshop on Investigative Journalism scheduled for 25/26 April, despite our having looked at the option of doing it online, we have concluded best postponed until at least autumn, or indeed when such activities can again be undertaken in safety. Our activities will indeed move online – for instance, our Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy and our new series of online discussions on current challenges to democracy faced by Central and Eastern Europe, hosted by LSE IDEAS and the Ratiu Forum.”
Nicolae Ratiu, Chairman of the Ratiu Family Charitable Foundation
When the Ratiu Foundation was originally established in 1979, Romania was still under communist control, and somewhat isolated from the political, security, social
and cultural developments of Europe and the wider world. Some elements of the Ratiu Foundation agenda, particularly as they related to democracy, human
rights and journalism, were developed in the context of this situation and with
reference to what was possible, practical and doable at that time.
Reflections on the changing context
This context has however changed dramatically since 1989 and has in effect passed through three distinct phases. Firstly, Romania went through a traumatic and euphoric transition in trying to break free of its communist legacy and restore its position as a fully sovereign state. In the second phase Romania chose to align its policy thinking and institutions to qualify for NATO and EU membership, which finally occurred in 2004 (for NATO) and 2007 (for the EU). And in the third phase – essentially from full EU membership onwards – Romania has had to change gears again and to think of how to actively participate in these institutional arrangements, and to contribute to shaping their thinking. These developments, taken together, have completely transformed the landscape within which the modern Romanian state and its people now have to operate. If we take up the narrative from the second point onwards, on joining NATO and the European Union, Romania had to converge and comply with the rules, practices, principles and procedures of these two institutions, while simultaneously reorganizing its domestic system, understood in its broadest terms.
In this sense they were takers, not shapers in the international and regional context, but were simultaneously constrained in their domestic policy choices by commitments made to the EU and NATO. This process generated its own set of problems, which has now given way to a new set of challenges; namely, how to participate actively and constructively within these two organizations, how to shape the way they function, while also completing the domestic policy transition required of membership. At the same time – and often underestimated in the challenge it poses – is that Romania and its people have had to reconnect to the ancient lineage of their own heritage, legal systems, culture, economy and history using approaches and techniques that are more open, exploratory, dispassionate and analytical. This transition from an autocratic communist state to an active member of NATO and the European Union has thus created an entirely new context in which to think about things. Hence, the Ratiu Forum is created in partnership with LSE IDEAS to address some of the most serious issues facing democracy in Romania today.
The Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy
15th, 16th and 18th September 2020
The overall purpose of this lecture series is to strengthen discussions and visions on democracy.
Ratiu Forum Journalism Workshop
5-8 November 2020
This highly interactive, weekend-long workshop is for professional journalists seeking to expand their investigative skills, to network with regional journalists and to explore the complex challenges the profession faces today.
20:20 Visions: conversations on the future of democracy
A new series of online discussions on current challenges to democracy faced by Central and Eastern Europe, hosted by LSE IDEAS and the Ratiu Forum.
The Teaching of History Workshop
The main reason for this workshop is to continue our promotion of civil society projects.
The Journalism Master Class
The overall purpose of this initiative is to explore the current situation of Romanian journalism as compared to other central European states in 2019.