FNF hosts youth event with Guy Verhofstadt and Stavros Theodorakis
It is a widely known fact that young people are under-represented in politics. This is especially the case in Greece, where the inter-generational contract between the elderly and the young generation is at stake because of the hardest economic crisis in the country’s history. Nevertheless, the Greek youth is socially active and gives no tacit consent to policies that undermine their future. The project office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) is in constant discussion with the young generation trying to give them a voice in the political arena and promote their ideas and aspirations.
On April 24, the FNF organized a special event entitled “Reforms for the Youth, Proposals from the Youth– Visions for the Future of Greece from Greece and abroad”, which was honored by the participation of Guy Verhofstadt MEP, Leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), and Stavros Theodorakis MP Founder and Leader of the Greek reformist party To Potami. The two political leaders commented on the keynote speech given by Apostolos Siokas, a young politician and a delegate of the “1st Liberal Greek Youth Convention” which took place in Thessaloniki late last year. Siokas made his case in favour of necessary reforms which, if undertaken, will turn Greece into an “effective economic and social welfare state”.
Following Apostolos Siokas was Guy Verhofstadt, who mentioned the responsibilities of the established Greek parties by stating that “we need to put an end to the prevailing system which favors corruption, tax evasion, and bureaucracy, and at the same time make the necessary moves to open up the market in Greece so as young people can be employed in occupations which currently are not accessible for them”. Stavros Theodorakis, a former TV host and now party president, highlighted the importance of education. He called for a new law that allows the establishment of private universities and asked the political parties to end their involvement in student unions – a big problem for Greek universities as it undermines an open, free and politically unbiased academic education.
After the initial comments, the floor was given to the audience of almost 200 mostly young people who got into a fruitful conversation with both politicians for over an hour. Questions were raised about the future of Greece and the European Union. Both Verhofstadt and Theodorakis openly shared their views and visions for the future of Europe with an excited audience.
The event was also part of the new cycle of the FNF’s Liberal Youth Seminars, which this year focus on “political leadership”. The welcome speech was addressed by Prof. Karl-Heinz Paqué, Vice-Chairman of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. Apart from the predominantly young crowd were several other esteemed guests such as two MEPs and several MPs of To Potami as well as Greek and foreign journalists and diplomats.
Athanasios Grammenos & Markus Kaiser