Ambassador Elena Poptodorova Distinguished Lecturers Series

The Ambassador Elena Poptodorova Distinguished Lecturers Series aims to initiate and contribute to open discussions of timely political and social issues of both regional and global importance. The Series was founded in 2009 by a dedicated group of AUBG students. Since then it has been run by a voluntary group of students and faculty.

The Series caries the name of Ambassador Elena Poptodorova who serves as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Bulgaria to the United States of America. She is also the Deputy Chair of the AUBG Board of Trustees. The Lecture Series has been sponsored by the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad.

Guest speakers

Dr. Zhelyu Zhelev - President of the Republic of Bulgaria (1990 – 1997)

“Twenty Years After the Democratic Change”

13 April 2009, Andrey Delchev Auditorium, Balkanski Academic Center, American University in Bulgaria

"Unipolar or Multipolar World—Where Are We Going?”(the speech marked the beginning of a long-term partnership between AUBG and the Balkan Political Club, founded by President Zhelev)

16 November 2010, Andrey Delchev Auditorium, Balkanski Academic Center

The late Dr. Zhelyu Zhelev (1933 - 2013) was a highly prominent figure of the Bulgarian and Eastern European democratic transition, a dissident and intellectual. Dr. Zhelev authored The Fascism, a book published in 1981 and soon after banned by the communist government in Bulgaria, that compared the methods of the communist regime with the ones employed by the fascist dictatorships. As a politician, Dr. Zhelev is among the founders of the Union of Democratic Forces of Bulgaria, and served as the first democratically elected President of the country. Founder of the Balkan Political Club that gathers heads of states, distinguished politicians, and well-known intellectuals from Southeastern Europe to discuss strategies for the development of the region.

Dr. Ivan Vejvoda - researcher

”Is the Current Ethnic Stability in the Balkans an Achievement or an Illusion?”

3 November 2009, Andrey Delchev Auditorium, Balkanski Academic Center, American University in Bulgaria

Ivan Vejvoda has served as Executive Director of the Balkan Trust for Democracy, part of the German Marshal Fund of the US between 2003 and 2010 whenhe was appointed as senior vice president of the GMF. Vejvoda previously headed the Fund for an Open Society in Belgrade, and also advised the late former premier of Yugoslavia Zoran Djindjic on foreign policy matters. Ivan Vejvoda is widely published on the subjects of democratic transition, totalitarianism, and post-war reconstruction in the Balkans.

H.E. Mrs. Elena Poptodorova - diplomat

“Black Sea Region in Transition: Achievements and

Challenges of the Last 20 Years”

10 November 2009, Andrey Delchev Auditorium, Balkanski Academic Center

"Coming from the Past, Going into the Future"

13 November 2014, Panitza Library Ground Floor

Elena Poptodorova is a senior Bulgarian diplomat who has served for several mandates as Bulgaria’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America. Ambassador Poptodorova is the Deputy Chair of the Board of Trustees of the American University in Bulgaria. She has headed Bulgaria’s mission in Rome, Italy, and has also served as Bulgarian Ambassador-at-large for the Black Sea region, as well as Director of the Security Policy Directorate at the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Poptodorova Series carries the name of Ambassador Elena Poptodorova, and honors her contributions to AUBG and Bulgaria's commitment to democratic values and principles.

Professor Pierre Hassner - researcher

"How Important is US and EU Leadership for World
Stability?”

26 November 2009, Andrey Delchev Auditorium, Balkanski Academic Center

Pierre Hassner is an Associate Research Felow of the Center of International Research at Sciences Po. Hassner has taught in the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris, Johns Hopkins University European Program in Bologna, Harvard, University of Chicago, and the Institut des Hautes Etudes Internationales, Geneva, among others. Hassner's research has focused on theories of international relations and geopolitics, the evolution of US and Soviet foreign policy doctrines, and new configurations of the international order.

H.E. Mr. Ivan Stancioff, diplomat and philantropist

“The Challenge of Representing a Small State”
10 February 2010, Andrey Delchev Auditorium, Balkanski Academic Center

Ivan Stancioff is a former Bulgarian Ambassador to the Court of St.James and to the Republic of Ireland. He pursued a successful business and entrepreneurial career in IBM World Trade Corporation and his own Cresta Marketing before returning to Bulgaria and dedicating himself to public service as ambassador, foreign minister, and philantropist. In his family home in the town of Varna, at the Black Sea coast, Stancioff founded the Karin Dom Foundation and day center for children with special needs. He is one of the founding members of Balkan Political Club and the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria. Stancioff also headed the senior advisory council to the Bulgarian Diplomatic Institute. Ivan Stancioff was awarded the Doctor Honoris Causa Honorary Degree of the American University in Bulgaria in May 2015.

Professor György Schöpflin, researcher and politician

“Modernity and Modernization”
26 March 2010, Andrey Delchev Auditorium, Balkanski Academic Center

György Schöpflin is a former Eastern European specialist at BBC and Jean Monnet Professor of Politics at the school of Slavonic and East European Studies the University of London. He has also served as director of the Center for the Study of Nationalism in London. György Schöpflin's principal area of research is the relationship between ethnicity, nationhood and political power, with particular reference to post-communism. He was elected a Member of the European Parliament in 2004 and has been reelected in 2009 and 2014.

Dr. Meglena Kuneva, politician

“EU Internal Market of the 21st Century”

27 September 2010, Andrey Delchev Auditorium, Balkanski Academic Center

Meglena Kuneva was appointed Bulgaria's first European Commissioner and given the Consumer Affairs portfolio for the period 2007 - 2010, responsible for the protection of consumer's rights in the Union. Kuneva has had an extensive political career and has also been a member of several Bulgarian governments as deputy foreign minister, Minister of European Affairs, and Deputy Prime Minister for European Policies Coordination and Institutional Affairs in the second Borissov cabinet (2014-). She has also served as Bulgaria's chief negotiator with the European Union during the preaccession period, senior legal advisor to the Bulgarian Council of Ministers, and as a journalist for the law programme of the Bulgarian National Radio.

H.E. Mr. Ljubisha Georgievski, diplomat, theater director and writer

“Culture Unites, Culture Divides”
24 March 2011, Andrey Delchev Auditorium, Balkanski Academic Center

Ljubisha Georgievski is a former chair of the Macedonian parliament and director of the National Theater of Macedonia. Georgievski has also served as ambassador to Bulgaria and Serbia. He is a popular theater director and script writer.

Dr. Thierry de Montbrial, diplomat and economist

"2011: Rust in Peace"
20 September 2011, Andrey Delchev Auditorium, Balkanski Academic Center

Thierry de Montbrial is the president and the founder the French Institute for International Relations. He has previously chaired the Economics Department at the Ecole Polytechnique, and worked as a columnist at Le Monde and Le Figaro. Entrusted with the creation of the Policy Planning Staff (Centre d’analyse et de prevision) at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he was its first director (1973-1979). Former advisor to the President of France. He is the author of  eighteen books, several of them translated in various languages.

Dr. Kristalina Georgieva, Member of the European Commission, economist

“From North Korea to the Horn of Africa: The Path of Crisis"

29 September 2011, Andrey Delchev Auditorium, Balkanski Academic Center

Kristalina Georgieva is a member of European Commission and an economist. She has served as a director in charge of the World bank Strategy and Sustainable Development unit, as well as headed the World Bank office in the Russian Federation. In 2008 she was appointed Vice President and Corporate Secretary of the Bank. In 2010 Kristalina Georgieva was elected European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid, and Crisis Response, and since 2014 she has been the Commission Vice President for Budget and Human Resources.

H.E. Mr. Stefan Tafrov, diplomat

"The United Nations and New Global Challenges"
4 April 2012, Panitza Library Ground Floor

Stefan Tafrov is the current Permanent Representative of the Republic of Bulgaria to the UN at its headquarters in New York. Tafrov has previously chaired the UN General Assembly Third Committee (Humanitarian, Social, and Cultural Affairs), and has also presided the UN Security Council on behalf of the Republic of Bulgaria. He has also served as head the Bulgarian dilomatic mission in Paris as Ambassador and permanent delegate to UNESCO. Stefan Tafrov has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the American University in Bulgaria. He is also an interpreter, fluent in six languages.

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