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Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Stanishev makes history at Harvard University

Submitted on Tuesday, 30 September 2008No Comment
Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Stanishev makes history at Harvard University

Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev made history Monday night by becoming the first acting Bulgarian prime minister to deliver a guest lecture at Harvard University.

Organized by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Kokkalis Program, Stanishev’s keynote address was entitled “Bulgaria as a Stabilizing Factor in Southeast Europe and the Black Sea Region”. It was received enthusiastically by Harvard’s students, faculty, and senior administrators.

The event, which was co-sponsored by Harvard’s Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, highlighted Bulgaria’s crucial role in the development of Southeast Europe and the Black Sea Region.

In his address, Stanishev outlined several key points, first noting Bulgaria’s crucial role in the recent transformation of Southeast Europe from the powder keg of Europe to a region of ever-increasing cooperation, stability, and development.

He argued for the importance of striving toward EU and NATO membership, crediting both organizations with promoting democratization, good governance and economic prosperity in the region.

Stanishev recommended that European nations reach agreements on energy and environmental goals, and called for the promotion of neighborly and constructive relations with Russia, Georgia, and South East European nations.

During his visit to Harvard, Prime Minister Stanishev also met and exchanged ideas with the Deputy Dean of the Kennedy School, Dr. Joseph McCarthy, the University Marshal Jacqueline O’Neill, and the noted international relations scholar Dr. Joseph Nye. During the meetings it was mentioned that Bulgaria ranked fifth in the number of foreign students at Harvard College.

Stanishev also encouraged Bulgarians educated abroad, along with other members of the Bulgarian diaspora, to return to Bulgaria, where new job opportunities are being created in education, technology, and other sectors.

The lecture was part of the Kokkalis Foundation and Kokkalis Program’s sustained commitment since their establishment in 1997 to build closer ties between the countries of Southeast Europe and to promote the region internationally.

Through its continued support for a growing number of Southeast European students and professionals at Harvard, the Kokkalis Foundation has become a leader in promoting regional development through education.

Recognized by Harvard as a model program for regional scholarships at the university, the Kokkalis Program’s fellowships has supported over 30 Bulgarians to complete graduate degree and executive training programs at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). The foundation supports graduate studies in public policy, public administration and international development. It also sponsors HKS executive training programs in strategic management, leadership, negotiation, innovations in governance and other fields.

Since 1997, the Kokkalis Foundation has run a series of educational, research, and outreach activities connecting Bulgarian policy-makers, scholars and students; preparing Bulgarian leaders for public service. As part of this initiative, the foundation organized numerous events in support of Bulgaria’s European Union membership bid.

At Harvard and in Athens, the Kokkalis Program and Kokkalis Foundation have hosted many other Bulgarian leaders at lectures, roundtable discussions, and other forums, including: former President of Bulgaria Petar Stoyanov (2002); Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Nikolay Vassilev (2002); Bulgaria’s Ambassador to the United States Elena Poptodorova (2005, 2007); Executive-director of the International Commission on the Balkans and chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies Ivan Krastev (2005); Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin (2006).

The Kokkalis Foundation and program additionally supported the establishment of the Harvard Club of Bulgaria in 2001, and co-organized the club’s inauguration event in Sofia.

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