FNF Greece: “Moving Greece Forward” goes America – Initiating a dialogue in times of crisis

DSC03556Five winners of the essay competition “Moving Greece Forward” endowed by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF), the Greek Liberties Monitor and KEFIM-Markos Dragoumis were invited to a study trip to Washington DC. An independent jury had selected the five winners out of more than fifty submissions. In Washington, the young authors below the age of 35 were able to share their visions for the future of Greece with interested American dialogue partners. In addition, the participants spent the week discovering Americans perspectives on Greece and learning about the upcoming 2016 Presidential elections.

Over the course of three days, the young Greek authors and political activists met with various people from the Greek-American community as well as with journalists and political experts working “on the Hill”. Endy Zemenides, the Executive Director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council, spoke about his work with the Greek-Americans and the role of that community throughout the United States. Another highly interesting conversation took place with Paul Belkin, who is the Congressional Research Service’s expert on Greece. Belkin explained how the world’s biggest parliamentary research service provides its expertise to Members of Congress and how American parliamentarians thus view the Greek crisis.

12249572_1684408891795036_4315336265934069640_nHow important it is to break up rigid, highly politicized structures in universities and instead focus on the best possible education, showed a visit to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. This visit was arranged by Bill Antholis, the Greek-American Director and CEO of the Miller Center. Among other things, the young Greek delegation took part in a discussion on “Diplomacy for a World in Crisis”, a moderated exchange between Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Professor Philip Zelikow.

Following their visit to the university, the group went on a guided tour of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s original home. Through this tour they were able to catch a glimpse of one of the most interesting periods in American history – the birth of the nation through one of the great minds who wrote the Declaration of Independence.

DSC03584“The Friedrich Naumann Foundation shows us that liberal ideas can be successful”, said Georgios Kokkolis, a 27 years old vice-mayor from the Attic municipality of Rafina-Pikermi, afterwards. “It is my generation which will have to solve the problems of Greece in order to provide a better future for our own children. That the Naumann Foundation supports us in this endeavor cannot be valued highly enough.”

FNF Greece would like to thank the Transatlantic Dialogue Programme (TAD) of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom for its great support throughout the whole project.

Markus Kaiser
Project Manager Greece
Pictures: FNF Greece