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Round Table: “Civil Society in the System of Culture and Education”
On 28 January 2012 in the city of Ruse, the Center for the Study of Democracy organized a round table on the topic “Civil Society in the System of Culture and Education”.

Stefko Burdzhiev, Regional Governor of Ruse District, welcomed the participants and underlined the important role of civil society for implementing the necessary reforms in the area of education and culture. As a prerequisite for their development, he identified the need for better regulatory framework, which could guarantee greater transparency, as well as higher rate of investments. In the context of Ruse’s efforts to become European Capital of Culture in 2019, Mr. Burdzhiev stressed the need for more efficient inclusion of the structures of civil society in the governance of culture. In conclusion, Mr. Burdzhiev stated that the principles of our democratic society require a balance between the discretionary power of the stakeholders in educational and cultural processes on the one side and state control and standards on the other.

Todor Yalamov, Senior Analyst at the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, addressed the problems of the third sector in Bulgaria placing an emphasis on chitalishte (community cultural center) and uchilishtno nastoyatelstvo (NGO representing parents of schoolchildren). He highlighted that the lack of up-to-date, comprehensive and functional public register renders the activities and funding of these particular kind of NGOs highly intransparent. This circumstance creates conditions for misuse and rises suspicions about their good governance. Finally, Mr. Yalamov reassured the participants in the round table that the insights gained during the discussions will be fed into the upcoming publication on the topic and will also serve as a basis for the formulation of policy recommendations.

Ralitsa Velichkova, Director of the Bulgarian Center for Not-for-profit Law, presented international indicators measuring the condition of the civil society sector in Bulgaria. The financial and institutional unsustainability were revealed as its most significant weaknesses. Furthermore, she stressed the fact that fragmentary or lacking data makes the in-depth and reliable analysis of the sector extremely difficult. Ms. Velichkova also discussed the measures laid down in the recently passed Strategy for supporting the development of civil organizations in Bulgaria for the period 2012-2015.

Dr. Lyubomir Kutin, Deputy Director of Ruse State Opera, outlined the necessary components of a meaningful national strategy for the development of education and culture. Additionally, he summarized the unique features of these sectors and the resulting need for a broad-based cooperation between state, academia, business, media, and NGOs.

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