The 30 Years Initiative represents an excellent and important opportunity to look at the region, its challenges, accomplishments, difficulties, failures, and political and social circumstances—its past, present and future—and will use all that as a lens through which to examine the unique and remarkable philanthropic profile of George Soros and his philosophy of an open society.

Thirty years is a significant period, enough time for a new generation to emerge from the perils of the wars, conflicts, and vast and constant turbulence of the region—small societies facing differences in social, political, cultural, economic, religious and ethnic milieus. At the beginning of this period, the appearance of a person who wanted to dedicate his personal money to help them build a better tomorrow was obviously a novelty. The role of the Open Society Foundations and its founder were simultaneously welcomed and questioned; they represented a desirable development but also posed a threat, provoking an intense engagement that ran the spectrum of love to hate, gratitude to suspicion.

The 30 Years Initiative will use these elements, and many more, as a basis to examine not only the challenges and successes, but also the impacts, scars and legacies that those years left behind. What are the threads that bind us together and create a sense of the region? It will also look into what has not been accomplished and how today’s unsettled times in Europe and the world—and the present health crisis caused by COVID-19—may influence the years ahead in the Balkans.