Merijn Hartog is the Director of CESS. In 2001 he graduated from the University of Groningen in Central and Eastern European Contemporary History. Then he worked at the Amsterdam-based International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation, gaining international project management experience.

At CESS, Merijn was responsible for the multi-year Starlink training programmes on democratic governance in the security sector in seven countries in Eastern Europe, the South-Caucasus and Central Asia. He was also responsible for three successive multi-year projects on good governance in Turkey. He is currently running capacity-building projects on parliamentary oversight in Macedonia, Kosovo and Ukraine and the EUCAM III programme, which scrutinizes European policies towards Central Asia.

Expertise: SSR, good governance in the security sector, parliamentary oversight, project management, training, research, training-of-trainers



Erik Sportel is a Senior Programme Manager at CESS. In 2005 he graduated from two universities. His degree in International Relations is from Groningen University, and his second MA, in Conflict Studies and Human Rights, is from Utrecht. Both theses were on the Transdniestrian conflict in Moldova.  In 2004 he was an intern at CESS’s partner in Moldova, the Institute for Public Policy (IPP). Then he joined CESS for three months as a fellow, and in September 2006 he returned to become a full staff member.

Erik is responsible for CESS's parliamentary programmes in Moldova, Georgia and Central Asia.

Expertise: Parliamentary empowerment, SSR, conflict studies, international negotiation, frozen conflicts, project management, training, research, training-of-trainers



Jos Boonstra is coordinator of the EUCAM initiative at CESS ( Before joining CESS, Boonstra worked as head of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia programme and head of EUCAM at FRIDE, a think tank with offices in Madrid and Brussels. He completed MAs in Contemporary History and International Relations at the University of Groningen. His work focuses on Eurasian and transatlantic security issues (in particular EU, NATO and OSCE policies) as well as on development policies and democratisation in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Boonstra is member of several internal research networks and regularly comments on Eurasia matters in the media.

Expertise: Security issues, democratisation, developmental policies, SSR, research, training, project management


Brigitte Stekelenburg is CESS's Office Manager and deals with the financial management of the organisation. Keeping the Centre's financial affairs in good order is a challenging task, because CESS operates without the benefit of core funding. 







Sami Faltas is the former Director of CESS and is nowadays teaching at the University of Groningen at the department of International Relations. He is still associated with CESS as Research Fellow. Originally from Egypt, he grew up in the Netherlands and worked in Germany for several years before coming to CESS. Trained as a political scientist, he holds a doctorate in economics and published widely on international affairs, disarmament and security. For use in our simulation exercises, he invented the post-Soviet republic of Croania, somewhere south of Russia.


Ritske Bloemendaal is an advisor for our Turkey programme. He worked for a shipping line based in Hong Kong before joining the Royal Netherlands Navy. After serving on various ships, he was posted to the Netherlands embassy in Washington DC, the Naval Staff in The Hague and finally the Dutch embassy in Ankara, where he served as defence attaché from 2000-2005. In this job, he cooperated closely with CESS during the early stages of our Turkey programme. After retiring in 2005 as a navy captain, he joined CESS. He is not only our Turkey specialist, but also our liaison with the Dutch government in The Hague.


Kees Homan Maj. Gen. (ret.) RNLMC is former director of the Netherlands Defence College and currently works as Senior Research Associate at the Clingendael-Netherlands Institute for International Relations. Since 2006 he regularly contributes to CESS programmes in Central Asia, South Caucasus, and Turkey. Through the years he led several training modules on defence policy documents, democratic governance in the security sector, private military, and security companies and SSR in the framework of NATO accession.




Bauke Snoep has been an associate of the CESS since 2006. After his initial career in the Royal Netherlands Air Force he became chairmen of the largest trade union for military personnel in the Netherlands (AFMP). Following this chairmanship he became President of EUROMIL, a European umbrella organization for organizations of military personnel. From 2006 onwards, he has been an associate of CESS and was regularly involved in delivering training sessions on fundamental rights of military personnel, democratic governance in the security sector, integrity building, corruption fighting, and reform of the security sector. Next to this expertise Bauke Snoep is one of our designated role-play leaders.