The Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy

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. 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.

The 2023 podcasts are available here.


Here is a photo selection from the 2023 conference series

The 2023 session (Platinia Hotel, 15 - 16 June) focused on the following panels: Corruption; Media & Democracy; CIVICS Innovation Hub Report Launch & Discussion; European Values; Populism & Nationalism; and concluding Michael Burleigh (Senior Fellow, LSE IDEAS) in conversation with Dominic Lieven (University of Cambridge) on Ukraine and the Return of History, moderated by Christopher Coker (LSE IDEAS).
The Forum hosted a gala dinner by chef Paul Bloomfield and team.


The 2023 event podcasts are now available. Please click on the buttons below.


Radu Albu-Comanescu is a lecturer in European Integration at the “Babeş-Bolyai” University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania. His research focuses on European construction, state-building, international relations and cultural diplomacy. He is also a Visegrad Insight fellow and a Member of the Board of Advisors of the Ratiu Forum.

Sumantra Bose is an Indian political scientist and professor of international and comparative politics at the London School of Economics. He specialises in the study of ethnic and national conflicts and their management, with a particular focus on the Indian subcontinent (especially Kashmir) and the former Yugoslavia (in particular Bosnia and Herzegovina).

Michael Burleigh held the Engelsberg Chair for 2019/20. He is a leading historian who focuses primarily on Nazi Germany. He is the author of The Third Reich: a new history, which won the 2001 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction; Moral Combat; Blood and Rage; Earthly Powers; Small Wars, Faraway Places; and The Best of Times, the Worst of Times. His most recent books are Day of the Assassins: A History of Political Murder; and Populism, Before and After the Pandemic, both published in 2021. He has also won a British Film Institute Award for Archival Achievement and a New York Film and Television Festival Award Bronze Medal.

Christopher Coker is Professor of International Relations at LSE. His publications include The Rise of the Civilizational State (2019); Rebooting Clausewitz (2018); Men at War; what fiction tells us about conflict from The Iliad to Catch 22 (2014); Warrior Geeks: how 21st century technology is changing the way we fight and think about war (Oxford University Press 2013) and Barbarous Philosophers: reflections on the nature of war from Heraclitus to Heisenberg (Columbia University Press 2010). He has written for The Times, Times Literary Supplement, The Financial Times, The Spectator, the Independent and The Wall St Journal. He has been a Visiting Fellow at National Institute of Defence Studies (Tokyo); the Rajaratnam School National technological University (Singapore), the Institute for Security Studies (Chulalongkorn University Bangkok) and is a regular lecturer at staff colleges and academies around the world. He is currently Visiting Professor in War Studies at the Swedish National Defence College.

Adrian-Gabriel Corpadean is the Dean of the Faculty of European Studies at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. He has written extensively on foreign policy and area studies issues with a particular focus on the European Union, the Western Balkans, and Romania.

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. Professor 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 a number of 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 also 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.

Mois Faion is a senior fellow at CSD Group with over 15 years of experience in developing and managing studies and consulting services in the areas of organised crime, media freedom and disinformation, evaluation of EU funds, legislation and institutions. He has managed projects on EU internal and external security funded by the Internal Security Fund, Horizon 2020, the Swiss-Bulgarian Cooperation Programme and the Norway Fund for Regional Cooperation. Mois has worked on studies of media ownership and regional media in Bulgaria, and on policy research and evaluations covering EU-27, the Western Balkans and Moldova. Mois holds a Ph.D. from the Institute of Balkan and Slavic Studies (Moscow) and an MBA from Yale School of Management. He is fluent in English and Russian.

Marcin Fatalski graduated from the Faculty of History at the Jagiellonian University; holds a Ph.D. in political science and works at the Institute of American Studies and Polish Diaspora of JU. His research focuses on international relations, especially U.S. policy towards Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe in international politics and nation-building policy. He has conducted archival research supporting studies in politics and diplomacy. Jagiellonian University and LSE IDEAS Visiting Fellow.

Dr. Alexander Gerganov’s main fields of specialization are corruption research, victimization studies (conventional crime), and grey economy. He focuses on methodology, statistical analysis in social research and mathematical modelling of big data and complex processes in the social sciences. He has participated in many multidisciplinary international research projects since 2005 and has been a part of CSD and Vitosha Research agency since 2009. He has contributed methodologically to the update and implementation of the Corruption Monitoring System, the Conventional crime indicators, the Grey economy indicators, and to the development of MACPI – an innovative instrument for monitoring and assessment of anti-corruption policies. He was responsible for data quality, and methodological control for the 2014 and 2016 SELDI corruption surveys, conducted in nine counties. Alexander Gerganov is also an assistant professor at the Social Survey Research Center, part of the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Maja Kurilic is a key team member of THE CIVICS, where she led the flagship project “Mapping Civic Education in Europe.” Before joining THE CIVICS, Maja advised the public sector in her home country of Croatia on projects like the European Social Fund evaluation. She has ten years of active engagement in the non-governmental sector and in academia, conducting research and co-authoring articles on remigration, brain drain and policy-making in Croatia. Maja holds an MA degree in public policy from the Central European University in Budapest and a BA degree in political science from the University of Zagreb. During her studies, she participated in academic and cultural exchange programmes in the United States and Poland. She is actively involved in the work of the Croatian-based NGO Znanje na djelu, which provides practice-based education to pupils, and in European networks like the European Forum Alpbach. Maja currently serves as a board member in Club Alpbach Croatia.

Dominic Lieven is a research professor at Cambridge University (Senior Research Fellow, Trinity College) and a Fellow of the British Academy and of Trinity College, Cambridge. Lieven is a writer on Russian history, on empires and emperors, on the Napoleonic era and the First World War, and on European aristocracy. Lieven is on the Editorial Board of Journal of Intelligence and Terrorism Studies. He was elected in 2001 Fellow of the British Academy, and was head of the History Department at the London School of Economics from 2009 to 2011; he was appointed lecturer there in 1978, and professor in 1993. He was appointed to his current position at the University of Cambridge in 2011.

John Lloyd co-founded The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford in 2006, where he was Director of Journalism and a Senior Research Fellow. He is a Contributing editor at The Financial Times, and Chairman of the School of Civic Education (Russia). Lloyd was a freelance reporter in Belfast in the early 1970s. He was a reporter on LBC Radio, worked at London Weekend TV as a reporter on the London Programme and producer on Weekend World. At the Financial Times he has been Labour Editor,Labour and Industrial Editor, East Europe Editor, Moscow Bureau Chief; and founding editor of the FT Weekend Magazine. He has edited both Time Out and the New Statesman.

Balint Magyar is a Hungarian politician, who served as Minister of Education between 1996–1998 and between 2002–2006. He was a founding member of the Alliance of Free Democrats. He earned a degree in history from the Faculty of Humanities of the Eötvös Loránd University in 1977. Magyar is a Research Fellow at the Financial Research Institute (since 2010) with a Doctoral degree in Political Economy (1980) from Faculty of Law of the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. He has published and edited numerous books on post-communist mafia states since 2013. He was an Open Society Fellow for carrying out comparative studies in this field (2015-2016), Hans Speier Visiting Professor at the New School (2017), and a Senior Fellow at the CEU Institute for Advanced Study (2018-2019). Formerly, he was an activist of the Hungarian anti-communist dissident movement, founder of the Liberal Party of Hungary (SZDSZ, 1988), a Member of the Hungarian Parliament (1990-2010), and the Hungarian Minister of Education (1996-1998, 2002-2006).

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. He has been the 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).

Janne Matlary is a professor of international politics, Department of Political Science, University of Oslo, and professor at the Norwegian National Defence University College. Her main academic fields are European foreign policy and international security policy as well as human rights/rule of law. She is a member of Oslo Militære Samfund (The Oslo Military Society) and Agder  Vitenskapsakademi (Agder Academy of Science). She received the St. Benedict prize for 2007, conferred by the Benedictine Community of Subiaco, Italy, for her work on European culture and politics. She is a Dame of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. She was State Secretary (Deputy Foreign Minister) for Foreign Affairs of Norway, representing the Christian Democratic Party in the Bondevik government, from 1997-2000. She was an expert member of the Norwegian parliament’s commission tasked with proposing changes to the Norwegian Constitution for the 200th anniversary of the latter in 2014. She was inter alia 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. She was the Norwegian member of the High-level Task Force on Belarus, a group of ex-ministers and ex-presidents who try to engage with Belarus.  She was a member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and consultor to the Pontifical Council for the Family in the Vatican and has acted as head or member of Holy See delegations to international conferences. She was a foreign policy advisor to the government and Furst von und zu Liechtenstein as a member of their Expertenrat für Aussenpolitik, 2002-2009, and member of the “Global Agenda Council” at the Davos World Economic Forum. She led the Norwegian Research Council’s programme on petroleum research PETROPOL in the period 2000-2006. She was a member of the Norwegian government’s expert commission on ethical guidelines for the national Petroleum Fund and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ commission on profiling Norway (“Omdømmeutvalget”), 2003-2006 and the National Defence Commission, 1996-97.

Dr. Oana-Cristina POPA has been appointed Head of EU Delegation to Montenegro by the EU HRVP as of September 1, 2020. She served as Ambassador of Romania to the Republic of Serbia (2016-2020) and Ambassador of Romania to the Republic of Croatia (2005-2009). Her diplomatic career included Deputy Head of Mission to the Embassy of Romania to Croatia (2003-2004), head of the North America division in the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on Euro-Atlantic affairs (2002-2003). Before joining the Romanian Foreign Service in 2002, Dr. Popa was Executive Director of the Fulbright Commission for Educational Exchanges between the United States of America and Romania (1998-2002). In addition to the diplomatic career, Dr. Popa has a rich activity in the academic and non- governmental fields. She taught course of International Affairs and European Integration at the “Babes-Bolyai” University of Cluj and the Western University of Timisoara (2010-2016). She is the recipient of two NATO fellowships (1997 and 2001) and was a post-doctoral fellow of the Romanian Academy in the field of European Social Sciences (2011-2012). She has published a significant number of research papers and articles, as well as delivered lectures at numerous conferences in Romania and abroad on the topic of European and Euro-Atlantic integration, regional cooperation in Southeast Europe and international security. Dr. Popa holds a Ph.D in History and International Relations (2001) and a BA in Psychology and Education (1994), both from the “Babes-Bolyai” University of Cluj, as well as an MA in International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, US (1996). In 2007 she received a certificate in Executive Education from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, US.

Wojciech Przybylski is the editor-in-chief of Visegrad Insight and chairman of Res Publica Foundation in Warsaw. Previously Wojciech has been the editor-in-chief of Eurozine – a magazine representing a network of European cultural journals, and – a Polish journal Res Publica Nowa. He has launched and leads the ‘New Europe 100’ project that is networking and bringing forward a community of successful innovators from CEE across the fields of business, research media, NGO and public administration run jointly by Res Publica, Financial Times and Google. He is a member of the advisory board of the European Forum of New Ideas. His expertise includes European and transatlantic affairs as well as policies related to innovation and culture. He has been publishing in Foreign Policy, Politico Europe, Journal of Democracy, EUObserver, VoxEurop, Hospodarskenoviny, Internazzionale, Gazeta Wyborcza, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna and several others. His new book ‘Understanding Central Europe’ (co-ed. with Marcin Moskalewicz) has been published in 2017 by Routledge. 

Richard Peter Ralph CMG CVO (born 27 April 1946) is an English former diplomat who was ambassador to Peru and then chairman of a mining company that operates in Peru. Ralph was educated at The King’s School, Canterbury, and Edinburgh University. He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1969 and served at Vientiane, Lisbon, Harare and Washington, D.C., as well as at the FCO. He was ambassador to Latvia 1993–95, governor of the Falkland Islands (and commissioner for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands) 1996–99, ambassador to Romania and concurrently to Moldova 1999–2002, and ambassador to Peru 2003–06.

Nicolae Ratiu was educated in the United Kingdom at Marlborough College, and the United States, New York University, with a BSc in Marine Transportation and economics. As Chairman of The Ratiu Foundation, a British registered charity (est. 1979) with headquarters in Manchester Square, London, Nicolae chairs a board of 5 Ratiu family members who award annually up to 50 grants, worth c. GBP 200,000, in various fields (study, research, projects, travel etc.) both in the UK and Romania. A businessman and philanthropist, Nicolae is also trustee of charities in Romania and the UK: The Romanian Cultural Centre in London; Pro Patrimonio (The National Trust of Romania); ADEPT; The Relief Fund for Romania; The Ratiu Center for Democracy. In addition, through the Ratiu Foundation, Nicolae supports major cultural and educational programs in UK, Romania and US, among which are: The Ion Ratiu Chair of Romanian Studies at Georgetown University, Washington; The annual Ion Ratiu Democracy Award and Fellowship in Washington; The Ion Ratiu Award for Investigative Journalism; The Elisabeth Pilkington Ratiu Award for Advances in Mental Health. 

Emilia Șercan is an investigative journalist with 24 years of professional experience and a lecturer at the Faculty of Journalism and Communication Sciences, University of Bucharest. She has worked for national media platforms like the Curierul Naţional and Evenimentul Zilei newspapers and for the Realitatea-Cațavencu media trust. As of 2015, her investigations can be read on PressOne. She has authored over 4,000 investigations, interviews and columns, more recently on the topic of plagiarism in doctoral theses. She has won several scholarships, among which a US State Department Fellowship at Ohio University (2016), a scholarship at Standhal University Grenoble 3 (2012 – 2013) and a Freedom House Scholarship in the USA (2004). Over the years, she has won several professional and academic awards: Journalist of the Year – SuperScrieri Awards (2016), Freedom of Expression Award – Active Watch (2016), Ion Ratiu Journalism Award (2016), “Nicolae Iorga” Award of the Romanian Society of Historical Sciences, European Network for Academic Integrity Award (2019) and the Award the Group for Social Dialogue – GDS (2020).

Louisa Slavkova is a political scientist and author with extensive experience in foreign policy, democracy development and civic education. She received her MA degree in political science, history and American literature from the University of Cologne and is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Sofia.
Louisa has held various positions throughout her career, including a visiting fellow at Columbia University, programmes manager at the European Council on Foreign Relations and adviser to Bulgaria’s former foreign minister. In 2013, she founded the Sofia Platform Foundation, a non-governmental organization focused on civic education and dealing with the country’s communist past. She is the co-author of two textbooks on civic education in Bulgaria and has authored and edited several books and publications on foreign policy and democracy development.
In 2021, Louisa co-founded THE CIVICS Innovation Hub and now serves as one of its three managing partners, overseeing operations in Sofia. She is also a civics course instructor at New Bulgarian University and a frequent contributor to Bulgarian and international outlets on democracy in Bulgaria and the region.

Eric Weaver is an associate professor teaching political science at the University of Debrecen. He received his doctorate in History from The University of Oxford in 2008.
He is the author and editor of a variety of books and articles on nationalism, minorities, and politics in Southeastern Europe. Investigative Journalism; The Elisabeth Pilkington Ratiu Award for Advances in Mental Health.