My IPF Project
ISLAM, THE BALKANS AND THE EUROPEAN
Policy Fellowships 2005–2006
“The Challenge of Wider Europe”
Grant Period April – August 2005
The work within the Project Islam the
Balkans and the European Neighbourhood Project during the first
period April–August 2005 allowed us to accomplish our preliminary
tasks and to realize the objectives for this first stage consistent
initial project proposal and timetable. All important changes of
elements of the project, including the modification of the title
Islam as a Factor in the Design of a European Neighbourhood Policy in
Balkans) and the substitution of the visit to the Netherlands with
travel, were introduced after their approval by the IPF Program as a
consultations with my group and individual advisers.
According to the initial work plan the
’s research and publication
carried out in Bulgaria and the European Union during the first grant
documents, identifying and collecting
relevant materials at the libraries and the archives in Sofia.
in the 1st Fellows Seminar
in Budapest, April 3–8, 2005.
of the questionnaire for
the non-standardized interviews and of the expert questionnaire for
interviews in cooperation with two relevant experts – one expert in
of Religion and one in Intercultural Communication.
and interviews with
academics, officials and policymakers from relevant governmental
Bulgaria, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the
Religious Affairs at the Ministry Council.
and expert interviews with
representatives of the Islamic leadership, including the Grand Mufti,
from the Higher Islamic Institute and other Muslim stakeholders.
trip to Belgium (coinciding with a
workgroup meeting). The presentation of the project progress at the
workgroup meeting held at the Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS)
discussion with the CEPS fellows were very useful for the further focus
progress of the project.
in the conference “Democracy and the Rule of
Law–American and European Strategies and
by CEPS and Stanford University, Brussels, 20–21 June 2005.
from the meetings and consultations in
Brussels (with members of the European Parliament and officials from
European Commission, the Director of OSI-Brussels and researchers from
policy relevant institutes as the East West Institute) I visited the
universities of Leuven and Gent where I was invited for discussions by
outstanding Islamicist and expert in the Middle East Prof. Urbain
trip to Germany: library work,
meetings and consultations with leading academics and experts in Islam
Middle East such as Prof. Tilman Nagel (Göttingen), Prof.
Günter Meyer (Mainz)
and Georges Khalil (WIKO, Berlin). Their positive feedback on the
encouraging and very helpful for the further work.
of books and materials
to be ordered for the purposes of the research.
in the South of Bulgaria – field research
in the Rodopi region
the technical processing of
the data and the materials collected during the surveys and the study
a result of the abovementioned
activities the draft outlines of the rough policy research paper and,
respectively, the 20-page policy study were prepared in consultation
group and individual advisers.
- Preparation and submitting of the
Apart from these activities
consistent with my specific initial IPF proposal and work plan, the
relevant activities enriched my experience as an IPF Fellow,
because I had
the opportunity to share my ideas within the broader expert and public
article entitled Islam as a
Public Force: Towards Re-Focusing of the Debate from a South East
Perspective has been accepted for publication by Policy
Perspectives at the
Open Society Institute and the Central European University in Budapest.
article entitled Islam and
Public Policy in the Balkans has been accepted for publication in
forthcoming issue of Columbia Rights News at Columbia University, New
acted as coordinator of and
participated in the international academic conference The Arab
Islam: Identities and Intercultural Interactions held at the St.
Ohridski University of Sofia, May 10–14, 2005. The papers will be published by
Sofia University Press.
organized and participated in an
international workshop on religion and education held in Sofia on April
2005 with the participation of stakeholders, clergy, Islamic leaders
academics from the University of Sofia and Columbia University in New
IPF grant challenged me and gave
me the opportunity to improve some of my teaching courses at the
Sofia, particularly the MA course Political and Religious Movements
Arab World developed with the support of the Curriculum Recourse
the Central European University in Budapest.
expert involvement in the program
of the Sofia-based Center for Intercultural Studies and Partnership
also served as a source of inspiration and experience in the policy
issues relevant to my IPF Project. Particularly, these projects are: Islam
and the Public Sphere: Global and Regional Dimensions (within which
the organizer of an international workshop in Sofia, the materials of
will be published soon and I am the editor of the collection), Religion
Education: Enhancing Christian-Muslim Understanding in Bulgaria (funded
the US Institute of Peace), Islam and the Media: Unveiling Prejudices and Overcoming Stereotypes (funded by the Dutch MATRA
Program), and The Muslim Community in Bulgaria: Facing the Global
Within these projects I have been also invited as trainer, lecturer and
moderator of seminars, which improved my experience in dealing with
- Besides, some of my IPF ideas were
tested during my interviews for print and electronic media in Bulgaria
this grant period, and this will be especially helpful in the advocacy
this project next year.
steps within the Project are planned to be consistent with the
posted on my individual web site.
September 1, 2005