One of the key missions of a think tank in a country in transition is to anticipate the rising challenges to society and to work with the stakeholders to develop and advocate solutions. National and global developments in 2001 – some of them unfortunately tragic – have shown that CSD is addressing issues that are at the forefront of the Bulgarian and international agenda. In particular, these include coalition building in anti-corruption and the impact of the new soft security risks on democracy and the rule of law.
For Bulgaria, 2001 was the year of parliamentary elections that brought to power a new coalition government. One of its main stated intentions was to prioritize anticorruption in its reform policies. This came at a time when CSD, and its partners under Coalition 2000, had built up a significant capacity in establishing partnerships among public and non-governmental institutions in the various areas of combating corruption – monitoring, awareness, legislative and judicial reforms, etc. For almost four years, the Center has been advocating that integrity and good governance are the keys to successful reforms, and that rooting out corruption could only be achieved by combining commitment at the policy level, participation and watchdog at the civic, and international assistance which supports both. Time has vindicated this vision and the coalition building approach – particularly in anti-corruption – is now widely appreciated internationally. It is also growingly accepted as indispensable by politicians and foreign development agencies in Bulgaria as well.
Among the key benefits of the public-private partnership approach is the sustainability it provides to reform efforts. Most of the policy areas of transition – anti-corruption in particular – are susceptible to being used by political parties for short term advantages that could compromise the long term objectives; they could also be heavily influenced by the election cycle. It is only the institutionalized involvement of civil society in the process of reforms that guarantees its sustainability. This was exemplified by the change of government in Bulgaria in 2001 when the anti-corruption expertise accumulated in the framework of Coalition 2000 allowed the government to tap into a considerable expert resource to be used in designing anti-corruption programs. Thus the efforts which CSD has been making over the years to ensure its institutional capacity and viability as a non-governmental institution promoting reforms in Bulgaria have proven crucial to fulfilling its main mission – building bridges between scholars and policy makers.
Over 12 years of experience in working in various policy areas have allowed CSD to develop the expertise to develop new pieces of legislation in areas that had not been regulated before and to advocate for their adoption by Parliament.