The American struggle for independence is a proud symbol for liberals all around the globe, reminding us that both individual and universal freedom are two of the the most important political values. To honor the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and to foster the dialogue about liberalism, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) hosted a Liberal Café titled “Aspects of Freedom: Lessons from the 4th of July for Greece and the rest of Europe” in Thessaloniki.
In his welcoming address Harry Peitsinis, Senior Coordinator for Greek Students for Liberty, stated that Europe stands at a critical historical point and has to move forward decisively – the way the Americans did – by promoting federalism, liberty and justice for all. The keynote speaker, Lord Mayor of Thessaloniki Yannis Boutaris, is a man well-known across Europe for his liberal views. The Mayor discussed the essence of freedom in politics, saying that the American independence remains an inspiration for modern politicians. However, he added, it is important for the progress of a free state that its citizens, in national as well as in local issues, are politically active and motivated by a high degree of civic virtue.
Apostolos Tsompanis-Notios, representing the NGO “Ioannis Kapodistrias”, looked to the 4th of July as a starting point for the American Federation and turned to the importance for Europe to follow the same pathway. Moreover, he offered his input from the side of civil society, pointing out that one of the lessons from the American integration is the importance of social institutions to mould individuals into citizens. Last, Aristidis Hatzis, Associate Professor of Political Philosophy and Theory of Institutions at the University of Athens, delivered an analysis of the new political ideas brought from American intellectuals and politicians that resulted in the independence. He also discussed the liberal spirit of the American constitution and explained how this document influenced the Greek Revolution and inspired the first Greek constitutions.
After the presentations, the panelists and the audience had an insightful discussion based on the presentation points. The discussion was moderated by Athanasios Grammenos, FNF Program Assistant.