The Central and South-East Europe Programme

An academic hub promoting dialogue and cooperation on Central, South-eastern and Eastern Europe, CSEEP primarily organises events, publications, and collaborations with partners to generate a richer understanding of the region’s history, geopolitics, and current affairs – most immediately, the Russo-Ukrainian War and the region’s shared post-communist legacy.

The conference was fantastic, with such a great crowd of intelligent and engaged people

Deborah Buckley, former Peace Corps (Romania)

The organisation was top-notch, and I am truly impressed by the exceptional experience provided. The attention to detail and seamless logistics made the event a joy to attend. The networking opportunities were also invaluable, allowing me to connect with inspiring individuals.

Maja Kurilic, CIVICS Innovation Hub

The Ratiu Forum is CSEEP’s joint initiative with the Ratiu Family Charitable Foundation (London) and the Ratiu Centre for Democracy (Transylvania). The Ratiu Forum supports researchers who focus on Romania, as well as the Balkan region. The Forum facilitates conferences, workshops, and other events as part of the Teaching of History Programme, Journalism Mentorship Programme, and annual Dialogues on Democracy – the most recent Dialogues conference was held in June 2023. Publications from the Forum’s associates and partners can be found here

CSEEP has two regional desks, based at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków (Poland) and BBU, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca (Romania). These desks establish an extensive scholarly network in the political sciences, sociology, history, and international relations.  

Our Visiting Fellow during the 2021/22 academic year was Professor Marcin Fatalski from the Jagiellonian University. Prof Fatalski graduated from the Faculty of History at JU, 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. 


The Return of History: Countering the Decline of Democracy in Europe
Stuart Austin
August 2023

This article summarises discussion held at the Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy conference, held in Cluj (Romania) on 15-16 June 2023. Contributors to the discussion were: Dr Radu Albu-Comanescu, Prof Christopher Coker, Dr Adrian-Gabriel Corpadean, Prof Sumantra Bose, Prof Christopher Dandeker, Prof Michael Burleigh, Dr Mois Faion, Dr Marcin Fatalski, Dr Alexander Gerganov, Maja Kurilić, Prof Dominic Lieven, John Lloyd, Bálint Magyar, Prof Slobodan Markovich, Dr Oana-Cristina Popa, Wojciech Przybylski, Richard Ralph CMG CVO, Nicolae Ratiu, Emilia Șercan, Louisa Slavkova, and Dr Eric Weaver

Perception and Rhetoric in ‘Frontline States’  
Agata Mazurkiewicz and Wojciech Michnik (eds.) 
May 2023  

This policy research paper aims to serve as an invitation for a broader discussion about the political, social, economic, military, and security consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine from the perspective of Central and Eastern Europe. As the paper introduces a ‘frontline state’ concept as an analytical lens, it focuses on reactions, narratives, and perceptions of the selected ‘frontline states’ towards Russia’s war in Ukraine. Particularly it analyses initial responses to the war in these states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia), including societal and governmental support for Ukraine. The paper also attempts to shed light on propaganda, as well as the cyber and disinformation domains of the war, looking not only into the strategies of, but also into, Ukrainian’s predominant narrative. In the conclusion, there is a brief assessment of the consequences of the aggression faced by the ‘frontline states’, with a special emphasis on regional and transatlantic security dynamics. 

The Russian Diaspora in the Baltic States: The Trojan Horse that never was
December 2021

Thirty years ago this month, the world shook as one of the only two Superpowers unexpectedly collapsed, creating enormous ramifications for the 25 million ethnic Russians who found themselves as non-titular citizens outside the borders of the newly formed Russian Federation. This ‘beached diaspora’ has been left marginalised and treated with fear, by the Baltic States in their nation-building policies and has left many to think of this community as ‘ripe’ for Russian influence. This Strategic Update will analyse Russian soft power policies and the development of ‘Russkii Mir’ as a tool for utilising this diaspora to further its foreign policy. Tools, which have been seemingly unaffected to a community of autonomy seeking citizens.

Authoritarian protectionism in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe: diversity, commonality and resistance
July 2021

Authoritarianism has become a major buzzword of global politics today. But the public debate has often focused on headline-catching cases of democratic decline. In the European Union (EU), Hungary and Poland, have tended to dominate discussion and critique with the implication that a modern-day ‘containment’ strategy might suffice to withstand the authoritarian advance. This report seeks to provide a wider regional contextualisation through the examination of Hungary and Poland in tandem with four other case studies in the region: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia.

Trianon: 100 Years After
April 2021

The Central and South-East Europe Programme and Babeş-Bolyai University, Romania have launched their 2020 report exploring the impact and legacy of the Treaty of Trianon in Hungary and Romania.

A Sea Change? The Impact of the US Presidential Election on Central and South-Eastern European Security and Defence
March 2021

Corina Rebegea, Wojciech Michnik and Ivan Vejvoda assess the likely impact of the new Biden administration on security and defence in the Black Sea, Balkan and Central European regions.

From Russia With Love? Serbia’s Lukewarm Reception of Russian Aid and Its Geopolitical Implications
June 2020

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic reached the Balkans, Serbia has energetically taken its partnership with China to the next level. However, while Russia has supplied aid to Serbia to combat the pandemic, it has not received the same attention from the Serbian leadership and public the way China did. Vuk Vuksanovic examines Serbo-Russian relations during the coronavirus pandemic and its geopolitical implications.

Axis of Convenience? Israel and China in a multipolar world
February 2020

Despite being one of the most important allies of the United States in the Middle East, Israel has been building a new partnership with China since 2013. Vuk Vusanovic explores the new partnership between Israel and China in this Strategic Update, and what this means alongside Israel's alliance with the United States.

Europe 30 Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall
June 2019

This report follows the first annual workshop which was hosted by the Central and South-East Europe Programme Desk on 17 and 18 June 2019 at the Political Science Faculty of Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

Events and Podcasts

Dialogues on Democracy 2023
14-16 June 2023

Critical Assessment of the Lessons Learned from the war in Ukraine: Discussions and recommendations ahead of the NATO Vilnius Summit
Co-Hosted by New Eastern Europe and LSE IDEAS CSEEP / UJ
24-25 April 2023 

John Lloyd Journalism Masterclass
11-12 March 2023

Teaching History Workshop
0-12 February 2023

New Threats and New Wars: looking to the future of Europe's strategic and defence landscape
Thursday 24 March 2022

With war raging between Russia and Ukraine, and escalation seeming more likely than diplomatic talks, what can be done for the future of defence across the continent?

The EU's Best Shot: overcoming vaccine hesitancy in marginalised local identities
Wedneday 2 March 2022

Local identities across Central and South-Eastern Europe have seen a sustained distrust and scepticism in the region when it comes to vaccine uptake. How can the EU overcome this hurdle?

The Collapse of The Soviet Union 30 Years On: transition and Soviet legacy
Wednesday 8 December 2021

This event brought together world-leading academics and practitioners to investigate the immediate ramifications of the end of the Soviet order, education and social mobility, and a look at the development of the region three decades on.

Dramatic Interactions for Justice and Peace
Wednesday 13 October 2021

Artists and academics discuss how drama and storytelling can contribute to rebuilding identity and meaning in post-conflict societies.

Transnational Organised Crime in the Western Balkans: Effects in the Region and Beyond
Thursday 7 October 2021

Researchers and policy experts discuss how Western Balkans organised crime groups came to dominate the global criminal underground from North America to South Africa.

Politics of the Far-Right in Central and South-East Europe
Friday 25 June 2021

What must the European Union learn from authoritarian threats to democracy? Catch up on this LSE IDEAS and Ratiu Forum webinar.

17+1: China's Foreign Policy in Central Europe
Friday 28 May 2021

Once the beacon of Chinese influence in Central and Eastern Europe, the 17+1 project has largely proved ineffective. How will Chinese diplomacy fare in a post-Covid world where transatlantic cooperation seems to be re-emerging?

Why War?
Thursday 6 May 2021

There is a claim that war is a pathology, and that if we were to sober up we could recognise this and abolish it. Catch up on this talk from Christopher Coker about the topic of his latest book, Why War? He discusses the key themes of his latest book, including a look at the development of patriotism and nationalism across the European landscape.

Clientelism and state capture in the EU and EU-accession countries
Friday 23 April 2021

Patron-client relations, rule of law weakness, state capture: how different are these concepts, and in which way do they play out across European countries?

Resetting Transatlantic Relations: Central Europe and the USA
Friday 19 March 2021

The United States’ policy approach towards Central and Eastern Europe will be discussed within a broader context of American foreign policy objectives in Europe and neighbouring regions.

The Visegrad Countries in the Global Order
Wednesday 10 March 2021

Thorn in the EU’s side or dynamic emerging power block? Join us to discuss the role of the Visegrad Group in the global order.

Europe's Frozen Conflicts: Kosovo, Transnistria and Eastern Ukraine
Friday 26 February 2021

This discussion explores the complexities of these three regions and asks how external powers such as the USA and the EU might work to bring about peace and stability in Europe’s most troubled territories.

Seeing Central Europe 30 Years On: film and the arts in the Visegrad countries
Monday 15 February 2021

This event explores the Visegrad countries’ cultural development since 1991 with a particular focus on film and theatre.

Turkey, Israel and the United Arab Emirates in the Balkans
Friday 22 January 2021

What should we make of the growing geopolitical interplay between Turkey, Israel, the UAE and the Balkans?

Spotlight on the Visegrad Economies
Wednesday 20 January 2021

We shine a spotlight on Central Europe’s Visegrad economies thirty years after the establishment of the V4 Group.

The Impact of the US Presidential Election on Central and South-Eastern European Security and Defence
Friday 27 November 2020

Will US foreign and defence policy change in Central and South-Eastern Europe under Joe Biden’s presidency?

The EU and the Romani People
Thursday 5 November 2020

What is the European Union doing to address racism directed towards Romani communities, and race-related exclusion within its borders?

David Mitrany, Romania and the Search for a New European Order: lessons for today
Tuesday 20 October 2020

Michael Cox and Lucian Ashworth discuss Mitrany's impact on international relations and how his Romanian origins influenced his thinking.

Russia and China in South-East Europe
Co-hosted with the Ratiu Forum
Friday 2 October 2020

What are Russia’s and China’s strategies and ambitions in South-East Europe?

Contemporary Challenges to Democracy
Co-hosted with the Ratiu Forum
Friday 18 September 2020

This panel discussion explores how populist media and historical narratives are creating a crisis of self-belief in Western liberal democracies. This is part of the Ratiu Forum's "Dialogues on Democracy" event series.

The End of the End of History
Co-hosted with the Ratiu Forum
Wednesday 16 September 2020

Has liberalism failed to deliver on its promises? Professor Burleigh and Professor Cox discuss ‘the end of the end of history’. This is part of the Ratiu Forum's "Dialogues on Democracy" event series.

Crisis in Central and Eastern Europe?
Co-hosted with the Ratiu Forum
Tuesday 15 September 2020

Populist and illiberal governments now dominate much of Central and Eastern European politics. Can liberal democracy survive? This is part of the Ratiu Forum's "Dialogues on Democracy" event series.

Immigration into Eastern Europe: new challenges
Monday 27 July 2020

Central and Eastern Europe must address a new phenomenon: it is now a place of immigration. How is the region responding?

Geopolitics in the Balkans
Co-hosted with the Ratiu Forum
Monday 29 June 2020

The COVID-19 outbreak, shifts in the global order, and rising tensions between great powers have brought new geopolitical dynamics into the Balkans. Against this backdrop, we will discuss these ongoing changes with a special focus on Serbia.

Malign Foreign Influences in the Black Sea Region
Co-hosted with the UK Romania Group
Monday 22 June 2020

What threatens the Black Sea region? From border security to cyber intrusion, our panel examine current and future malign foreign influences in the Black Sea security environment.

Will Democracy Survive in Poland, Hungary and Serbia?
Co-hosted with the Ratiu Forum
Monday 8 June 2020

A recent Freedom House report singled out Poland, Hungary and Serbia for their alarming rate of democratic disintegration. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided these countries with an unusual opportunity to interfere with constitutional powers and scheduled elections. How have these three countries exploited this opportunity? And what longer-term impact will this have in these precarious times for democracy?


Professor Chris Alden is Director of CSEEP

Stuart Austin is CSEEP Programme Manager 

Maria Branea is Ratiu Forum Project Manager 

Ruxandra Albescu is Ratiu Forum Communications Officer