The Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy serves as a growing platform for professionals, policymakers, academics, journalists, government officials, and teachers to meet and network.

The Return of History?


8 September (arrivals) & 9-10 September 2024 (panels) 
The Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy is an event held annually, organised by the Ratiu Forum in partnership with the LSE IDEAS Central and South-East Europe Programme (CSEEP). The overall purpose of the Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy programme is to strengthen discussions and visions on democracy within central-eastern Europe and the Balkan region. 
This year, proceedings will be opened by Professor Chris Alden, Director of LSE IDEAS, and His Excellency Giles Portman, British Ambassador to Romania.

The particular focus for the Dialogues is on tackling the challenges of populism, illiberalism, and democratic backsliding – even more urgent with the war in Ukraine and its potential to destabilise the region. The Dialogues provide a developing forum for professionals with diverse backgrounds, including policymakers, academics, journalists, government officials, and teachers.

For many years after the withdrawal of Soviet power from Europe, followed a few years later by the collapse of the Soviet Union itself, it became the norm amongst Western scholars to argue that the world was becoming ideologically more liberal, politically more democratic, and economically more open. Yet that is not how the world appears to many writers today.

With globalization under threat, liberal norms challenged by authoritarian states like Russia and China, and the Global South in apparent revolt as what it sees as an unequal world it claims favours the West, it is hardly surprising that many are now asking whether the current liberal democratic order can survive.

In 1989 the famous American pundit Francis Fukuyama talked of ‘history’ having come to an end with serious opposition to the liberal order having been consigned into the proverbial dustbin of history. It would now seem that far from history having ended, it was simply laying dormant waiting to pounce on the unwary and the unprepared.

Spaces are limited; please register your participation by contacting us at and we aim to confirm as soon as possible.

Please read here the information note on the processing of personal data for participants.

Join the 2024 Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy as a sponsor and enjoy a series of benefits.

Monday 9th September

9:30 – 10:00
Speakers: Prof. Michael Cox, co-founder LSE IDEAS, and His Excellency Giles Portman, British Ambassador to Romania

 Prof. Alexander Evans OBE, Prof. Slobodan Markovich, Dr. Mary Martin, and Prof. Janne Matlary
Chair: Sir. Richard Mottram
In the opening session, a panel of experts will seek to explain why the hopes of a generation coming out of the long dark tunnel called the Cold War appear to have been dashed over the past twenty years. The historian Adam Tooze summarised the mood of pessimism in the following way: ‘If you’ve been feeling confused and as though everything is impacting on you all at the same time, this is not a personal, private experience, this is actually a collective experience.’ That experience he called a ‘polycrisis’: defined as a series of ‘disparate crises interacting in such a way that the overall impact far exceeds the sum of each part’ and, more worryingly still, seemingly incapable of easy resolution. 

Speakers: Dr. Brian Klaas and Dr. Wojciech Michnik
 John Florescu
In a prescient analysis published as early as 2014, the famous Chicago Pew Research Center noted that the United States was beginning to come apart at the seams, with Republicans and Democrats increasingly at odds with one another in Congress, and Americans in general more polarised than at any time since the end of the Second World War. According to a number of pundits, this polarisation is even threatening the stability of the republic, with consequences that might be as serious for the world as they could be for the United States itself. With some polls indicating that the White House may once again be in the hands of Donald Trump after November, the road ahead looks bumpy indeed.

Speakers: Prof. Michael Cox, Hugh Sandeman, and Dr. Giulia Sciorati
Chair: Prof. Lutfey Siddiqi
A new idea has gained popularity over the past few years: namely that there exists an entity called the ‘Global South’, comprising countries as far apart geographically and culturally as South Africa, Brazil, and India. Criticised by many in the West for lacking conceptual clarity, what the term lacks in precision it more than makes up for in terms of the political impact it is having in international affairs – most visibly in the United Nations where the ‘Global South’ and most Western countries often find themselves in opposing camps. Both Beijing and Moscow have even sought to exploit this divide, claiming that they are the natural leaders of all those countries that have experienced colonialism in the past, all the while suffering economically in a world dominated by the $US dollar and Western bodies like the IMF. 

Tuesday 10th September

Prof. Michael Cox, Dr. Sandra Pralong and Dr. Eric Weaver
Chair: Peter Watkins CB CBE
As 2023 has been dubbed ‘The Year of Coups’, so 2024 has already been named ‘The Year of Elections’. Indeed, perhaps more than any other year in recent times, 2024 is gearing up to be one the greatest tests for democracy yet. With more than half the world’s population (over four billion people) sending their citizens to the polls – from Taiwan and Bangladesh, to India and the European Union, and last but not least the United States in November – the world is facing one of its most politically unsettling moments. 

 Dr. Ivan Lidarev, George Scutaru, Dr. Nathalie Tocci (online), and Wojciech Przybylski
Chair: Prof. Piers Ludlow
As the Director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali in Rome recently reminded us, the challenges facing Europe are more than just about rising energy bills and refugees. According to Nathalie Tocci, it is also about Europe’s failure to deal in a united and decisive fashion with the big foreign policy challenges of our time; not just in Ukraine – where nearly half of all military aid going to Kyiv is still coming from the USA – but even more strikingly in an increasingly unstable Middle East, where ‘Europe has revealed itself in all its weakness’. Tocci claims to remain an optimist about Europe but, as she goes on to confess, ‘crisis after crisis’ is testing her hope. 

Roundtable: Prof. Christopher Dandeker, Prof. Caroline Kennedy, Prof. Slobodan Markovich, and Dr. Aaron McKeil
Chair: Prof. Michael Cox
Christopher Coker was one of the driving forces behind the Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy, who invariably lit up any discussion with his mordant wit  and erudition. But it was the unfashionable subject of war that made his reputation in an age following the end of the Cold War when all the talk was about Europe and the world more generally becoming more peaceful in an age of globalisation. In this panel, many of Christopher’s friends and admirers reflect on Christopher’s contribution to the study of war and the legacy he has left behind for all of us who had the privilege of knowing and working with him

Prof. Chris Alden
Professor Chris Alden is Director of LSE IDEAS and Deputy Head of the London School of Economics International Relations Department (PhD and Research). He is also a Research Associate with South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA). He is author/co-author of numerous books, including Apartheid’s Last Stand – the Rise and Fall of the South African Security State (Palgrave 1996), Mozambique and the Construction of the New African State (Palgrave 2003), South Africa’s Post-Apartheid Foreign Policy (Adelphi Paper IISS 2003), China in Africa (Zed 2007), Land, Liberation and Compromise in Southern Africa (Palgrave/Macmillan 2009), The South and World Politics (Palgrave 2010), and Foreign Policy Analysis – New Approaches, 2nd edition (Routledge 2017). He is also co-editor of China and Mozambique: from Comrades to Capitalist (Johannesburg: Jacana 2014), China Returns to Africa (Hurst 2008), China and Africa – Building Peace and Security Cooperation on the Continent (Palgrave 2017), and New Directions in Africa-China Studies (Routledge 2019), as well as having written numerous articles in internationally recognised journals.

Prof. Michael Cox
Founding Director of LSE IDEAS and Emeritus Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics. He has held several senior professional positions in the field of international relations including chair of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR), member of the Executive Committee of the British International Studies Association, and of the Irish National Committee for the Study of International Affairs, Chair of the United States Discussion Group at Chatham House, Senior Fellow at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, and Visiting Professor at the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies in Canberra, Australia. He also serves on the editorial board of several academic journals and has been editor of several leading journals in IR, including The Review of International Studies, International Relations, Cold War History, and International Politics. He is author or editor of many books, recently including a collection of his own essays The Post-Cold War World (2018), Agonies of Empire: US Power from Clinton to Biden (2022), and Ukraine: Russia’s War and the Future of the Global Order (LSE Public Policy Review Series, 2023).

Prof. Christopher Dandeker
Christopher Dandeker was Professor of Military Sociology in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London and (with Professor Simon Wessely and Professor Nicola T Fear), Co-Director of the King’s Centre for Military Health Research [KCMHR]. He joined King’s from the University of Leicester in 1990 as a Senior Lecturer and was promoted to Professor in 1997. He retired in July 2015 as Emeritus Professor. Prof Dandeker served as Head of Department of War Studies from 1997-2001 and as Head of the School [now Faculty] of Social Sciences and Public Policy from 2005-08. He has advised the British Army on a range of personnel policy issues and has done the same for the Swedish defence forces. In addition, he has given evidence on personnel issues to the House of Commons Defence Committee and several other bodies.
Dandeker studies all aspects of civil-military relations. He is a Fellow of the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society and a member of its Council. In 2011, he received the Morris Janowitz Career Achievement Award from IUS and that year was elected as a Fellow of the Academy Social Sciences of the United Kingdom. In 2012 he was elected as a Fellow of King’s College London.

Prof. Alexander Evans OBE
Alexander Evans is Professor in Practice in Public Policy at the London School of Economics and a Visiting Senior Fellow at LSE IDEAS. His previous academic posts have included being the Henry Kissinger Chair at the Library of Congress, a Senior Fellow at Yale, and a Gwilym Gibbon Fellow at Nuffield College Oxford. He has a Ph.D. in politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. A career diplomat, he has worked as an advisor to the Prime Minister in 10 Downing Street, Strategy Director in the Cabinet Office, and Director Cyber in the Foreign Office. He has served as Deputy and Acting High Commissioner to India and (briefly) Pakistan, led the United Nations Security Council expert group on Daesh, Al Qaida and the Taliban, and been a senior advisor to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke in the U.S. Department of State. He was awarded an OBE for his work in Pakistan, where he led the UK’s work on the Tribal Areas from 2007 to 2009.

John Florescu
John M. Florescu has had a distinguished career as media entrepreneur, television producer and businessman with broad experience in the United States and Europe. A journalist by training, Mr. Florescu is the son of the distinguished historian Radu Florescu and the grandson of a prominent pre-war Romanian diplomat of the same name. Fluent in French and working Romanian, he comes from one of Romania’s oldest families with roots going back more than 500 years. For 20 years, Mr. Florescu served as executive producer for the late Sir David. From Washington and Los Angeles, Mr. Florescu has produced over 180 television specials, documentaries/interviews for PBS, HBO, A&E, History Channel, Discovery-Times, Disney Channel, CBS Cable and other broadcasters in the US and overseas. He was Co-Executive Producer of Talking with David Frost, one of the longest running news/public affairs interview programs in PBS history. Mr. Florescu has served Executive producer for interviews with six past U.S. Presidents and also with several foreign heads of state including Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandela and several Middle Eastern leaders including Benjamin Netanyahu. With all the world’s living Nobel laureates present in Stockholm, he also produced for PBS “The Great Nobel Debate” on the 90th anniversary of the award. While in Romania, Mr. Florescu produced “The King Who Tricked Hitler,” (2016) about King Michael of Romania (at the time, the only living Head of State from WW 11) and two programs on Donald Trump and Senator Clinton (2016/2017), and “Queen Marie: Heart of Romania.” (2018). He produced “King Michael: The Journey Home.” (2021). In 2022, the produced the 2 part “The Mystery of Dacian Gold” (2022) and the upcoming 6-part series, “Marcel Iures Presents Romanian Enigmas” (2023). Recipient of a number of awards, Mr. Florescu’s recent films have run worldwide on the HISTORY channel and on Amazon Prime. In the 1980s, Mr. Florescu created and served as Executive Producer of the PBS series Great Confrontations at the Oxford Union, a 4-part public affairs debate series that brought together the world’s best student debaters with world statesmen including the former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Having lived in and out of Romania for 20 years, Mr. Florescu advised the late Senator Edward Kennedy on Romanian political affairs as well as many US and Western businesses entering the then-booming East European region. He contributed editorials about Eastern Europe for The Boston Globe, The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle; participated in academic symposium on Romanian topics; advised on studies on Romania by the Council on Foreign Relations; served in 1991 as a US delegate with NDI during the first democratic elections. Mr. Florescu holds a B.A. (Magna Cum Laude, 1976) in History from Boston College. From 1974 to 1975, he studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) at Oxford University, where he served as the first American editor of the university newspaper, The Cherwell. Mr. Florescu has two boys in NYC and a daughter and son in Romania.

Prof. Caroline Kennedy-Pipe
Caroline Kennedy-Pipe is Professor of International Relations and International Security at the School of Social, Political and Geographical Sciences, Loughborough University. She joined Loughborough in 2018 from the University of Hull, where she was Professor of War Studies and Director of the Centre for Security Studies. Her research interests include contemporary war, the ethics of war and Cold War politics as well as terrorism and Russian foreign policy. She is currently President of the British International Studies Association and was Chair of the Association from 2004 to 2006. She has a first-class honours degree in History, an MsC Econ in Strategic Studies and a DPhil in International Relations.
She was previously Chair of War Studies at The University of Warwick and had previously been Chair of International Relations, University of Sheffield. Her previous posts include Reader in Politics, at the University of Durham and Director of the Institute for International Studies at the University of Leeds. She has been quoted as ‘One of the UK’s leading experts in war’ in the Guardian.

Dr. Brian Klaas
Dr. Brian Klaas is an Associate Professor in Global Politics at University College London and a contributing writer for The Atlantic magazine. Previously, he was a weekly columnist for The Washington Post, and was also based at both the London School of Economics and the University of Oxford. He is a regular media commentator on global affairs. Dr. Klaas has advised governments, US political campaigns, NATO, the European Union, multi-billion-dollar investors, international NGOs, and international politicians. Prior to becoming an academic, he worked on US campaigns — including serving as the Policy Director / Deputy Campaign Manager for Mark Dayton’s successful bid for Governor of Minnesota.

Dr. Ivan Lidarev
Dr. Ivan Lidarev was the 2023/24 Mladena and Dianko Sotirov Visiting Fellow at LSE IDEAS. He is also Adjunct Professor at Vesalius College, Brussels. Ivan has been a Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs official in Bulgaria and a Research Fellow at the New Strategy Center, Romania. He holds a PhD in War Studies from King’s College London, MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and MA from Yonsei University. Ivan is currently working on a book project which offers a novel, comprehensive, and global framework of analysis for the study of revisionist powers in international relations. His work has appeared in the journal International Affairs and he has written for Foreign Affairs and The National Interest, among others.

Prof. N. Piers Ludlow
Professor Ludlow studied for his undergraduate degree at Trinity College, Oxford before moving on to St Antony’s College Oxford to study for his D.Phil. He was then a British Academy Postdoctoral Professor Ludlow’s main research interests lie in the history of Western Europe since 1945, in particular the historical roots of the integration process and the development of the EU. He recently completed a monograph looking in some detail at Roy Jenkins’
presidency of the European Commission, which was published by Palgrave in April 2016. He also works on the Cold War, and in particular West-West relations during the East-West struggle.

Dr. Slobodan Markovich
Dr. Slobodan G. Markovich, MBE is Full Professor at the School of Political Science of the University of Belgrade, where he lectures Political Anthropology, Political History of South-East Europe and Image of European Other. He is also Full Professor at the Institute for European Studies in Belgrade. He has been Research Associate at LSEE/LSE since 2012, and at LSE IDEAS since 2018, as well as head of the Centre for British Studies at the School of Political Science in Belgrade since 2017. His published monographs include a book on Freud’s pessimism, Pessimistic Anthropology of Sigmund Freud (Belgrade, 2012); on Serbian economist, politician and diplomat Chedomille Miyatovich, A Victorian Among Serbs (Belgrade, 2006); and a monograph on British-(Balkan) Serbian relations, British Perceptions of Serbia and the Balkans 1903-1906 (Paris, 2000, in English). His (co-)edited collections of papers in English include: British-Serbian Relations from the 18th to the 21st Centuries (Belgrade, 2018), Problems of Identities in the Balkans (Belgrade, 2006), and Challenges to New Democracies in the Balkans (Belgrade, 2004). He has been the coordinator of annual meetings titled ‘Psychoanalysis and Culture’ since 2016. His research interests include: construction of ethnic/ national and religious Identities in the Balkans, British-Balkan Relations, psychoanalytic anthropology, and the History of European pessimism.

Dr. Mary Martin
Doctor Mary Martin is director of the UN Business and Human Security Initiative. Her research focuses on the role of the private sector in conflict and peacebuilding and private security in the international system. She was co-ordinator of the Human Security Study Group 2006-1010, reporting to the High Representative of the European Union. She holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Cambridge.

Dr. Janne Matláry
Janne Haaland Matláry is Professor of International Politics in the Department of Political Science at the University of Oslo and the Norwegian National Defense University College (Forsvarets Høgskole). She specialises in European foreign and defence policy and international security. Her current work focuses on the polarisation and fragmentation of modern European politics. She aims to better understand the divisions in European democracies today and what causes them to become divided. Her writings include: Hard Power in Hard Times: Can Europe Act Strategically? (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), Ukraine and Beyond: Russia’s Strategic Security Challenge to Europe (editor and author with Tormod Heier, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), and Intervention for Human Rights in Europe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2002). From 1997-2000, Professor Matláry served as the deputy Foreign Minister in Kjell Magne Bondevik’s Christian-Democratic government. She has also served as a member of the national defence commission of Norway and is on the board of trustees of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed her a life-long member of the Pontifical Academy of Science (Social Sciences branch).She has also served as a member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and consultor for the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Dr. Aaron McKeil
Dr. Aaron McKeil is Academic Director of the MSc International Strategy and Diplomacy Programme at LSE IDEAS. He writes on international disorder. His forthcoming book exploring the collapse of globalism is titled Cosmopolitan Imaginaries and International Disorder, published by University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. He convenes the International Orders Research Unit at LSE IDEAS and is a member of the Council of Experts at the Centre for History, Strategy, and International Order at Helmut-Schmidt University. He holds a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics.

Dr. Wojciech Michnik
Wojciech Michnik is currently an assistant professor at Jagiellonian University in Krakow and a Transatlantic Project Coordinator of LSE IDEAS CSEEP at the Jagiellonian University. He is also the 2023-24 NATO Security Studies Fulbright Fellow at the University of Arizona. He served as an Eisenhower Defence Fellow (2019) at NATO Defence College; a Fulbright visiting scholar at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute (2015-2016); and a security policy analyst at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland (2014). His main research interests include Transatlantic Security, NATO-Russia relations, and Great Power Competition in the Middle East. Wojciech Michnik holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from Jagiellonian University.

Sir Richard Mottram
Sir Richard Mottram is an expert on national security issues,including defence policy, strategy and planning. From 1992-2007 he was one of Britain’s top civil servants: he headed several departments, including the Ministry of Defence, and was responsible for security and intelligence matters in the Cabinet Office, and Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee. He is also a Visiting Professor in LSE’s Department of Government.

Dr. Sandra Pralong
Sandra Pralong, Ph.D., is, since September 2015, a State Advisor, member of the Cabinet of the President of Romania, responsible for relations with Romanians abroad. She held a similar position in a
previous Administration when, between 1998 and 2000, she helped open up the Romanian state’s relations with its citizens who had fled in Exile during Communism. As a former UN official (UNDP, UNFPA), international foundation executive (Open Society Foundation, SynergEtica) and international media director (Newsweek, New York), Sandra shared her expertise also as a professor at the Academy of Economic Studies and at the University of Bucharest, as well as the University of Niamey, Niger (West Africa).Sandra holds a Ph.D. in Political Science (Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris, France), an MA in Business Management (HEC, Lausanne, Switzerland), an MA in International Relations (Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Boston, USA), an M.Phil. in Political Philosophy (Columbia University, NY, USA) and a Master’s Degree in Cognitive Sciences (University of Bucharest, Romania). She is the author of several books, countless academic research papers and essays, a public speaker, a trainer and a coach.

Wojciech Przybylski
Wojciech Przybylski is a political analyst heading Visegrad Insight’s policy foresight on European affairs. His expertise includes foreign policy and political culture. He is Editor-in-Chief of Visegrad Insight and President of the Res Publica Foundation, as well as Europe’s Future Fellow at IWM (Institute of Human Sciences) in Vienna and Erste Foundation. Wojciech also co-authored a book Understanding Central Europe (Routledge, 2017). He has been published in Foreign Policy, Politico Europe, Journal of Democracy, EUObserver, Project Syndicate, VoxEurop, Hospodarske noviny, Internazionale, Zeit, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, Onet, Gazeta Wyborcza and regularly appears in BBC, Al Jazeera Europe, Euronews, TRT World, TVN24, TOK FM, Swedish Radio and others.

Hugh Sandeman
Hugh Sandeman was an international banker for 30 years based in New York, Tokyo, London, and Frankfurt, and for his final decade in the business focused on India, where he worked as a corporate financier and company director. From 2017 to 2023, he was head of the Global Strategies project at LSE IDEAS, responsible for convening discussions between UK policy makers, and academics and other experts within LSE, in the areas of foreign, defence and security policy. Before becoming a banker, Hugh was Tokyo correspondent, international business editor and then New York correspondent of The Economist magazine.

Dr. Giulia Sciorati
Giulia Sciorati is an LSE Fellow in China and the Global South, in the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research focuses on (visual) narratives in International Relations, particularly in terms of memory contestation and autocracy promotion. Empirically, she works on China’s relations with post-Soviet neighbours. Prior to joining LSE, Giulia was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow on an interdepartmental research project entitled “The Belt and Road Initiative and the Impact of COVID-19 on China’s International Projection”, funded by the University of Trento, where she also completed her PhD in International Studies in September 2020. Giulia has spent numerous study and research stays abroad, including at Beijing Language and Culture University, KIMEP University in Almaty, the University of Nottingham, and the University of Oxford.

George Scutaru
George Scutaru is one of the founders and the CEO of the New Strategy Center – the leading Romanian think tank in the security and foreign affairs field, founded in July 2015. He started his professional career in journalism, in Bucharest, then as a press correspondent to Moscow, before he became the general director of a press monitoring and consultancy agency in Romania. Between 2004 and 2014 he was a member of the Parliament of Romania, the Chamber of Deputies. In that period, he successively held the positions of Secretary (2004-2008) and Vice-Chairman (2008-2014) of the Committee on Defence and National Security. Between 2014 and 2015 he was national security advisor to the President of Romania. On behalf of the President, Scutaru coordinated the entire negotiation process for the national agreement, assumed in 2015 by all Romanian political parties from the Parliament, for a 2% of the GDP financing of the defence sector, which triggered an extensive modernisation process of the Romanian Armed Forces and enhanced the interoperability with NATO and the US. George graduated from the Faculty of History (University of Bucharest) and holds a master’s degree in International Relations. He also graduated from the National Defence College and the National Intelligence College in Bucharest and attended training courses and programs at the NATO College in Rome, the G.C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies and the US Department of State. Area of expertise: Russia, security challenges in the Black Sea region. He is author of several studies dedicated to Russia’s strategy in the Black Sea region, Russian hybrid warfare and aspects related to energy security in the wider Black Sea region.

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