"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, Freetime Factory and our Ratiu Forum. The Forum and collaboration with LSE was proving to have serious impact, especially the Teaching of History Workshop held last month. Our next workshop on Investigative Journalism scheduled for 25/26 April, despite our having looked at the option of Ovidiu Vanghele 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 relaunch when we can. Our own safety is exactly what we should be focussing on now. By following the government’s instructions, staying at home except for essential trips we can slow the spread of the virus and actually save lives. It is also a time to rethink our priorities. An opportunity to think about others, to identify what is essential, good and valuable in our daily lives and of those who are important to us. Our normal lifestyles will inevitably alter dramatically. Shape them now thoughtfully and something good can come out of this for the future."

Nicolae Ratiu

Chairman of the Ratiu Family Charitable Foundation

The LSE IDEAS Central and South-East Europe Programme have cancelled
all  Ratiu Forum public events due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis,
until further notice. We regret that this will cause disappointment
for many – including us. It is, however, imperative that we all
continue to prioritise the safety and well-being of our communities.
While public events cannot take place, we will publish an increased
output of informed, thought-provoking analysis on the Ratiu Forum
website. Please do look out for contributions, including an upcoming
analysis of the impact of Covid-19 on politics and society in the
Central and Eastern European region.
On behalf of all the LSE IDEAS team I would like to thank you for your
understanding and wish you all a restful and safe Easter break.

Christopher Coker
Director, LSE IDEAS

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.

ratiu forum journalism masterclass

November 16 – 17, 2019

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.

The Teaching of History Workshop

The main reason for this workshop is to continue our promotion of civil society projects. 

Investigative Journalism Workshop

The main reason for this workshop is to continue our promotion of civil society projects. 


The Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy

The overall purpose of this lecture series is to strengthen discussions and visions on democracy.

Considering the current international context, the event will be organized online – more details follow. 

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.

Monday 8 June, 13:00 UK time (15:00 RO)  

Malign Foreign Influences in the Black Sea Region

Partner Events

Hosted by the LSE IDEAS

Monday 22 June 2020 6:00pm to 7:30pm (UK time), 8:00 pm to 9:30pm (RO time)  

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Ratiu Forum 

No. 1, Piata 1 Dec. 1918 Turda, jud. Cluj, Romania



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