Atlantic Club of Bulgaria
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The Atlantic Club of Bulgaria is a non-governmental, non-partisan organization dedicated to fostering the common values of the Euro-Atlantic community.
Originally formed in 1990 around the pro-NATO lobby in the first post-Cold War Bulgarian Parliament, and officially established on 4 April 1991, the Atlantic Club has grown to include members from all walks of life: government, academia, military, business and media. The Club works to promote Bulgaria’s integration with and role in the Atlantic Alliance, and all Euro-Atlantic political, security, economic and other structures. Within Bulgaria, the Atlantic Club serves the broader purpose of supporting democracy, human rights, free market economy and rule of law.
The Club’s activities focus primarily on raising public awareness about security and international affairs. The list of distinguished guest speakers includes the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Lech Wałęsa, Shimon Peres, Mikhail Gorbachev and the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. A number of heads of states and governments have addressed the Club, such as Tony Blair, Romano Prodi, Mesut Yılmaz, Bülent Ecevit, José María Aznar, Lyubcho Georgievski, Mikuláš Dzurinda, Mircea Snegur, Mário Soares, Ion Iliescu, Adrian Năstase, Stjepan Mesić, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Vladimír Špidla, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, Alfred Moisiu, Fatos Nano, Pascal Couchepin, and Bulgaria's Georgi Parvanov, Petar Stoyanov, Zhelyu Zhelev, Sergey Stanishev, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Ivan Kostov and Zhan Videnov, Secretaries General of WEU Wim van Eekelen and José Cutileiro, as well as Council of Europe Secretaries General Daniel Tarschys and Walter Schwimmer, President of European Parliament Pat Cox and other prominent EU leaders. NATO Secretaries General Dr. Manfred Wörner, Dr. Javier Solana, Lord George Robertson and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, a number of NATO Supreme Allied Commanders Europe (SACEURs), and foreign and defense ministers and high-ranking military commanders from various countries have also spoke before the Club.
The Atlantic Club initiated a national committee that organized the visit of Pope John Paul II to Bulgaria in 2002, and also co-hosted the mass rally for U.S. President Bill Clinton who visited Sofia in 1999, and another one for US Secretary of State Colin Powell in 2003.
Research and policy promotion
In its think-tank capacity the Atlantic Club sponsors round tables, seminars and conferences on a wide variety of topics, and is a leading partner in the Security Sector Reform Coalition formed by Bulgarian NGOs to develop strategic reports on key policy issues in the field of foreign and security policy, and defense reform and modernization.
In 1998 the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria was awarded the annual Manfred Wörner Fellowship by NATO to develop a strategic study entitled NATO’s Global Mission in the 21st Century.
The Club has contributed greatly to initiating and carrying out the public debate, opinion making and policy advocacy in times of crises, starting with ensuring of Bulgarian support for the Allied liberation of Kuwait in 1991, through the wars and post-war reconstruction in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.
After attending the Nobel Prize Ceremony in Oslo, 2012 Solomon Passy suggested that EU should nominate Bulgaria for the Nobel Peace Prize next year. As a Nobel Laureate the European Union has the legitimate right to nominate individuals and institutions for the prestigious award and Mr. Passy thinks Bulgaria should make the most of this opportunity. Year of 2013 marks the 70th anniversary of the rescue of nearly 50, 000 Jews from being sent to concentration camps in Nazi Germany. Under pressure from Hitler, the government of Tsar Boris III planned deportation of the Jewish population which was prevented by the Holy Synod, the Bulgarian Orthodox church and civil protests.
“No other nation has done such thing, or if they did, they would receive a recognition for its actions”, stated the president of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria.
The Atlantic Club was the first Atlantic NGO outside NATO — founded on Warsaw Pact territory actually — and the first non-NATO member (since 1992) of the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA), and has assisted in the establishment of Atlantic associations in other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, most recently in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other Asian, African and South American countries. In particular, the Club holds an annual Bulgarian-Afghanistan NATO Week, and a Bulgarian-Iraqi NATO Week, organized jointly with the Afghanistan Council for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation and the Atlantic Club of Iraq respectively.
The Atlantic Club is active in other fields like sustainable development, aerospace and Antarctic research, as well as market economy studies, respectively as a co-founder of the Bulgarian Aerospace Agency, the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute and the Economic Policy Institute, Sofia.
The Club raised the funds, and jointly with the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute organized the resumption of Bulgaria’s Antarctic activities in 1993, the upgrading of the Bulgarian refuge on Livingston Island and its redesignation as St. Kliment Ohridski Base, as well as the construction of a new main building of the base started during the 1995/96 season.
An important part of the Club’s network is its International Board of Directors comprising prominent individuals from Bulgaria, Europe and North America working for Atlanticism or humanism in general. The organization has regional chapters in Burgas, Dospat and Sarnitsa, Gabrovo, Haskovo, Plovdiv, Ruse, Varna and Yambol, and is associated with the NATO Information Center in Sofia, the Bulgarian Euro-Atlantic Youth Club, and the Manfred Wörner Foundation.
The Atlantic Club bestows its Golden Award for outstanding personal contribution to promoting Atlantic values, solidarity and cooperation.
The Club has sponsored the naming of Manfred Wörner Street, Atlantic Square, Atlantic Alliance Plaza, Atlantic Hall, NATO Park-Plaza, Atlantic Optical Plant, and Atlantic Solidarity Square by the relevant authorities of Sofia, Haskovo, Sandanski, Plovdiv, Dospat, Panagyurishte and Varna respectively.
In recognition of the organization’s contribution to fostering Atlantic values, the President of Bulgaria has named a geographical feature in Antarctica for the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, namely the Atlantic Club Ridge on Livingston Island.
- S. Popov et al., NATO's Global Mission in the 21st Century, Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, Sofia, 2000
- J. Bugajski and B. Tashev eds., Early warning and policy perspectives in the Trans-Atlantic security agenda: Central and East European point of view, NI Plus Publishing House, Sofia, 2005, ISBN 954-90437-7-0
- L. Ivanov and P. Pantev eds., The Joint Bulgarian-American Military Facilities: Public opinion and strategic, political, economic, and environmental aspects, NI Plus Publishing House, Sofia, 2006 (in Bulgarian)
- L. Ivanov ed., Bulgaria: Bezmer and adjacent regions — Guide for American military, Multiprint Ltd., Sofia, 2007, ISBN 978-954-90437-8-5
- Atlantic Club of Bulgaria Website