In Thessaloniki, Greece, Dr. Wolfgang Gerhardt, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF), delivered the keynote speech on “European challenges in the course of time” at a diplomatic seminar at the University of Macedonia. In the panel discussion organized by the FNF also participated Wolfgang Dold, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Greece, and Panagiotis Yennimatas, Honorary Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Dr. Gerhardt opened the discussion by stating that “the subsidiarity principle should be the guideline for each EU member state”. The key requirement right now would be for the European Union and its member states to put their houses in order. “Europe’s major challenge is to concentrate on executing correctly the current treaties including their obligations, while each member state has to do his homework at the national level as well”, Dr. Gerhardt said. “We have to take fully into account the central issues of democratic responsibility and accountability, which still rest to date within the national state.”
Panagiotis Gennimatas, Honorary Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), called for strengthening the European institutions instead of a redistribution of power to the member states. “It would be dangerous to the European idea to restitute power to national governments”, he claimed. “The European institutions are there to serve all and all equally. To challenge the achievements of European integration would be a hazardous risk.”
Wolfgang Dold, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Greece since 2012, emphasized the progress Greece as well as the entire European Union had made over the last years. “Many so called experts were saying that the European Union is about to fail, but this did not happen”, he recalled. “European solidarity is a precious good. During the crisis the Europeans have proven that when worst comes to worst, we sort out problems jointly. This is a great accomplishment.” Nevertheless, more direct contacts between the people were needed for a better understanding.
About 140 students followed the debate which had been promoted excellently by the local chapter of the “Students for Liberty” and vividly took part in the discussion. It was clear to see that among the student body liberal answers prevailed over populist promises. “This seminar was among the finest ever hosted at the University of Thessaloniki”, Professor Yannis A. Hajidimitriou, Rector of the University of Macedonia, praised afterwards. “I am looking forward to deepening this cooperation which brings high politics to young people. I am sure this is for the good of every young Greek.”