The Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy

The Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy is an event held annually, organized by The Ratiu Forum in partnership with LSE IDEAS. The overall purpose of this lecture series is to strengthen discussions and visions on democracy. We aim to have the Dialogues develop as a meeting place for professionals with diverse backgrounds who share an interest in current challenges facing Balkan nations, with a particular emphasis on Romania.



10.00 - 10.15

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cluj-City Plaza, Sindicatelor 6-9, Cluj-Napoca

The Dialogues on Democracy conference will be opened by the Chairman of the Ratiu Family Foundation, Mr Nicolae Ratiu, with a brief overview of the Ratiu family’s history and interest in democratic resilience that will be covered. He will introduce the internationally renowned speakers from academia and government who will share their expertise with us over the two-day event.

Panel: Corruption and the rule of law

10.15 - 12.30

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cluj-City Plaza, Sindicatelor 6-9, Cluj-Napoca

Speakers include Professor Peter Balazs, CEU, Dr Eric Weaver, University of Debrecen, and Dr Tena Prelec, University of Oxford.

Corruption occurs in every part of the world, but few regions have witnessed such stark challenges to the rule of law in recent years than Central Europe – in Hungary most clearly, and also in Poland, Bulgaria and elsewhere. Measures by NGOs such as Freedom House and Transparency International indicate that many Central European countries are experiencing a marked decline in the transparency and independence of judiciaries, and growing clientelism in the political sphere.

What are the characteristics of contemporary threats to the rule of law in the region? What mechanisms exist, or should exist, to resist growing corruption and threats to independent legal oversights? Our experts will bring insights from their work in academia, politics, and policy analysis to consider how best to hold governments and people in power to account within a liberal democratic, EU-wide framework.

Péter Balázs held numerous senior diplomatic and government positions in Hungary, including as Foreign Minister (2009-2010) and Hungarian Ambassador to the EU (2003-2004). He was the Government Representative of Hungary in the European Convention drafting the Constitutional Treaty which has become, after several modifications, the Lisbon Treaty. In 2016 he received the Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award by Tufts University and the Institute for Global Leadership “in recognition of his integrity and valor as Foreign Minister, encouraging respect for humanities values and rule of law and fighting discrimination.”

Tena Prelec is a Research Fellow at the Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR), University of Oxford, and a Research Associate at LSEE-Research on South Eastern Europe, LSE.

Eric Beckett Weaver is a historian and political scientist at the Department of Political Science, University of Debrecen. Dr Weaver’s expansive research covers politics and history, international history and politics and comparative politics.

Ion Rațiu Journalism Ceremony Award

14.30 - 15.00

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cluj-City Plaza, Sindicatelor 6-9, Cluj-Napoca

With an introduction by Mr Nicolae Rațiu, Chairman of the Rațiu Family Foundation, and an address by this year’s recipient of the Ion Rațiu Journalism Award, Victor Ilie, who currently reports for Recorder.

In November 2020 Victor Ilie published the investigation that discovered and brought to the public’s attention the King of the pandemic, the main person responsible for purchasing vital medical equipment for the Romanian state and its citizens, a master of a “kingdom” dominated by corruption, defiance and incompetence.

According to the members of the Jury Committee that evaluated this year’s proposals, the article written by Victor Ilie is an example of quality journalism produced by an independent press project, an investigation carried out at a time when the access to information was often limited for journalists. Read the press release here

Panel: Journalism and the media in Central Europe

15.00 - 17.00

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cluj-City Plaza, Sindicatelor 6-9, Cluj-Napoca

Speakers include the journalists Mr John Lloyd, Financial Times, Ms Alison Smale, Institute of Human Sciences Vienna, and Mr Wojciech Przybyski, Visegrad Insight and Res Publica.

A free press is a hallmark of a free, liberal democracy: journalists hold governments to account, keep citizens informed, and expose wrongdoings by those who wield power and influence. The media, however, can also hold considerable influence itself, and is continually at risk of political and business interference. These tensions have come to particular prominence in Central Europe.

To discuss the state of the media in the region, this dialogue brings together journalists with a wealth of experience reporting in, and about, the Central European region:

John Lloyd is a Contributing Editor at the Financial Times, and Chairman of the School of Civic Education (Russia). He was based in the USSR and Central Europe in the 1980s and 1990s as East Europe Editor and the Moscow Bureau Chief

Wojciech Przybylski is the editor-in-chief of Visegrad Insight and chairman of Res Publica Foundation in Warsaw, and former editor-in-chief of Eurozine.

Alison Smale reported from Central Europe for many years, for the United Press International, the Associated Press, The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune. She served as the Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, and is now researching Central European media at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna.

Panel: Authoritarianism and liberalism

10.30 - 12.30

Ratiu Democracy Centre, Piata 1 Decembrie 1918, Turda

This panel discussion will include Professor Michael Burleigh, LSE IDEAS, Professor Janne Haaland Matlary, University of Oslo, and Dr Ivan Vejvoda, Institute of Human Sciences Vienna.

Governments around the world have challenged the liberal order with a rise in populist and authoritarian rule, from Hungary, to Turkey, to Brazil, and beyond. Extremist politics on both the right and the left are enjoying growing popularity. Have citizens given up on democracy and the liberal consensus?This far-ranging discussion will explore the many threats to liberalism: its causes, its strengths and weaknesses, and how liberal democracy can be defended and bolstered in the future.

Janne Haaland Matlary is professor of international politics at the University of Oslo and at the Norwegian Military Staff College, Norway. She was deputy foreign minister of Norway, 1997-2000, and is highly regarded for her work on the subjects of energy policy and international human rights. Professor Matlary is an Associate of LSE IDEAS.

Michael Burleigh was the Engelsberg Chair for 2019-20 at LSE IDEAS. Michael is a professor of history 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. He has held professorships at several top universities in the UK and USA and is a Senior Fellow at LSE IDEAS.

Ivan Vejvoda is a Permanent Fellow and the Director of the “Europe’s futures” project at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, Austria. He was Senior Vice President for Programs at the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Washington D.C between 2010 and 2017. He joined GMF in 2003 to lead the Balkan Trust for Democracy, after serving in the Serbian government as senior advisor on foreign policy and European integration to Prime Ministers Zoran Djindjić and Zoran Živković.

Closing keynote address: Global Challenges to European Values in the Contemporary Era

14.30 - 16.30

Ratiu Democracy Centre, Piata 1 Decembrie 1918, Turda

Professor Richard Higgott, Brussels School of Governance, VUB, will speak in conversation with Professor Christopher Coker, LSE IDEAS.

Are there values that are exclusively European? Values that are often attributed to Europe—and sometimes called universal values—are currently contested not only outside Europe but inside Europe too. If we can identify core European values, what are the challenges that Europe faces in both defending them and advancing them in the wider global context in the current era?

In this keynote address, Professor Higgott will embed the discussion of European values in a comparative global context, with reference to Asia in general and China and India in particular. 

Richard Higgott is Emeritus Professor of International Political Economy at the University of Warwick, Senior Researcher in the Brussels School of Governance, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Visiting Professor of Political Science at the University of Siena. He is currently Distinguished Professor of Diplomacy at Vesalius College at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel working on an H2020 project on European cultural and science diplomacy.

Christopher Coker is Director of LSE IDEAS, LSE’s foreign policy think tank. He was Professor of International Relations at LSE, retiring in 2019. He is a former twice serving member of the Council of the Royal United Services Institute, a former NATO Fellow and a regular lecturer at Defence Colleges in the UK, US. Rome, Singapore, and Tokyo. He has been a Visiting Fellow at the National Institute for Defence Studies In Tokyo, the Rajaratnam School for International Studies Singapore, the Political Science Dept in Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok and the Norwegian and Swedish Defence Colleges.

Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy 2021 - COMING UP

The international Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy conference returns on Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th September to Cluj-Napoca and Turda, Romania.
This prestigious two-day event will feature discussions on important topics relating to democracy in the region by internationally renowned speakers from academia and government. Audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions and to engage with some of the world’s leading thinkers on democracy and European identity.
The event will feature keynote speaker Professor Richard Higgott from the Brussels School of Governance, and there will be three panel discussions on the role of journalism and the media in Central Europe, authoritarianism and liberalism, and corruption and the rule of law.

This year we are delighted to announce that the line-up will include:

Professor Richard Higgott, Brussels School of Governance
Professor Christopher Coker, LSE
Professor Janne Haaland Matlary, University of Oslo
Professor Michael Burleigh, LSE
Dr Ivan Vejvoda, Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna
Dr Eric Weaver, University of Debrecen
Dr Spyros Economides, LSE
Ms Alison Smale, Fellow, Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna
Mr John Lloyd, Financial Times
Dr Tena Prelec, University of Oxford and LSE

More speakers will be announced in due course.

The Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy is an annual event held with the purpose of strengthening discussions and visions on democracy. The Dialogues event is a meeting place for diverse professionals who share an interest in current challenges facing Balkan nations, with a particular emphasis on Romania. Previous speakers have included Professor Michael Cox, Professor Michael Clarke and the Rt Hon. Lord David Owen CH FRCP.

This event is jointly organised by the Ratiu Forum, based in Turda, and LSE IDEAS, a foreign policy think tank affiliated with the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
The Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy conference is scheduled to take place in person, although it will be moved online if the coronavirus situation makes an offline event unsafe.

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


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