Contributing to the discourse in civil society in Southeast Europe, the CDRSEE participated in the conference convened by the Navarino Network on ‘EU and Southeastern Europe: Democracy and Human Rights Challenges’ on December 16th in Thessaloniki. Under the auspices of the ‘Kalliopi Koufa Foundation for the Promotion of International and Human Rights Law’, the conference brought together scholars and practitioners in the field from across Southeast Europe to engage in dialogue on the diverse human rights issues facing the region at a time of change in the wider Europe.The CDRSEE’s Development Officer, Ruth Sutton, spoke about the importance of critical thinking education in bolstering the capacity of individuals and societies in countering and resisting populism and the return of ‘strong man politics’. “We are sleepwalking towards dictatorships” she stated. “No one is taking away our rights in Europe; rather we are handing them over and undermining our own democracies by voting for autocrats in search of easy answers and perceived security in an increasingly complex and confusing world”. On a panel including distinguished analysts Dr Dusan Reljic (Head of Brussels Office, SWP – German Institute for International and Security Affairs), Remzi Lani (Executive Director of the Albanian Media Institute), and Dr Dimitris Triantafyllou (Associate Professor, Kadir Has University, Director, Center for International and European Studies), the CDRSEE emphasised the need for media literacy education and for educators to encourage questioning and independent research among students- in order to foster a civil society capable of countering anti-democratic trends and guarding against ‘The return of the strong man’.