The future is here. The world is changing rapidly while stereotypes are collapsing. The new generation is seeking new roles and identity, beyond the conservative determination and assumptions. The emerging challenges are for the first time greater than the human size: we cannot deal with climate change locally and if we do not deal with it at all, the consequences for humanity will be dramatic; economic inequalities are not met only in countries with economic and political problems but they have reached even the most developed ones and, as they grow, democracy is losing its political substance, facing the threats of populism; security combined with open society was an „experiment“ that worked for years, but now it is considered incompatible from both extremes of the political spectrum, that nowadays see their influence increasing, generating risks for the liberal global order as we knew it.
Certain surveys (see: Eurobarometer-EY2016), emphasise that although young people keep a distance from politics, they do have a profound political perception. This suggests that while they are concerned with political issues, they do not find the most fitting political channels of expression. Here lies the great responsibility for the liberals: we must clearly (re-) articulate our values, especially in the areas of human and civil rights, democracy, social market economy and European integration. It is also crucial to tackle populism in its essence and isolate the elements of the „extreme centre,” that distort the spirit of the theory of liberalism.
At the beginning of its second period in Greece (2012), the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom understood the call of many young people for proper means of conduct for a broad, open, mature and permanent political discourse that will enlighten and educate democratic, progressive and liberal citizens. Responding to this need, we established a political academy which, since 2013, has been organizing liberal seminars, workshops and conferences throughout the country.
Over the years, hundreds of students, young professionals, journalists and councillors have been trained, many of whom have participated in pan-European forums and events. Continue reading →
Liberalism is the political theory that supports individual responsibility. If freedom leads to happiness, citizens must be free to pursue their personal goals. The same time, individuals, as social beings, need a robust democratic rule of law should societies grow and prosper.
On 21 January 2019, FNF Greece presented its first project for 2019 with an alternative touch! A special event named “Freedom Talks” brought together liberals across the country not only to discuss about freedom but also to celebrate the New Year with the local custom of Vasilopita (“Kings’ Pie”).
Greece has many talented women, who however have to give a battle against stereotypes before they actually “fight” an electoral campaign. It comes as no surprise that Greek women are underrepresented in politics, and what’s worse is that this is commonly accepted. The liberals favour a strategic approach to increase female participation and success in the elections, closing the gender gap between men and women. This was the idea behind the workshop “Women in Politics – How to Run a Successful Female Campaign” which took place from 28 to 30 September, in the vicinity of Athens.
In view of the next local elections in Greece which will be held in one year’s time in conjunction with the European Elections, several liberal politicians have already started preparing for the electoral campaign. On Saturday, 30 June 2018, a young group of FNF affiliated local politicians and candidates organized a workshop discussing fundamental issues of political campaigning and strategy. FNF Greece responded cheerfully to the invitation to support the initiative which is the first in a series of political educational seminars to come in the next months.
For the first time, FNF’s international comic exhibition Re-Animate Europe travelled to Greece, a country that for many is synonymous with the cradle of democracy and philosophy. Hit by a severe economic crisis, Greece is the right place to debate Europe and get a genuine feedback of what the people believe. Less than a year before the European elections, there is a twofold purpose: share a new vision for Europe, as depicted by the comic artists, and acquaint the citizens with some of the common challenges the next European Parliament will have to deal with.
The first stop was at Chania, a picturesque town in Western Crete. The exhibition took place from 07-12 July 2018 at the historic “Café Kipos” in the Old Town. The visitors, Greeks and foreigners, had the opportunity to admire the work of the comic artists, discuss with the organizers their vision of Europe, and take a free copy of the comic book as a European souvenir.
On Tuesday, 09 July 2018, FNF Greece hosted a special open event presenting the exhibition to the Cretan public. Prominent members of the local society attended the event to learn about the initiative and to listen to the speakers’ contributions. The audience was greeted by Elpida Tsitsiridou, Vice-Mayor of Chania for Culture and Tourism, who expressed the view that art can be a meaningful means for political messaging in times of crisis. She added that the momentum for traveling with this exhibition in Greece is ideal because especially the younger generations have to realize their responsibilities and make serious decisions for their own future.
Next, Theodoros Stathakis, Mayor of the town of Kissamos, addressed the audience saying that it is an honor for Crete to welcome such an inspiring exhibition which connects the island with the rest of Europe. He said that because Europe is in a state of renewal, it will be critical in the next elections to defeat the forces of populism and euroscepticism.
Keynote speaker was Apostolos Siokas, Vice-Mayor of the City of Moschato-Tavros, Vice-Chairman of the Young Liberals Greece, and a known liberal from FNF Greece’s network. Apostolos elaborated on the fascinating stories of the comic competition, stating that they are indeed marvelous sketches of how young people perceive and understand the European idea. He focused on the stories which discuss issues of social concern and linked them to contemporary European problems. “Immigration, social inequalities, the debt crisis and unemployment challenge the EU’s cohesion and enforce the extremes”, he noted. “However, it is time for us liberals to unite in a pan-European campaign and respond decisively to those who question our common future.”
Lastly a small intervention was made by Vasilios Stathakis, Manager of “Café Kipos” and President of the “European Historic Cafés Association” (EHICA). He thanked the organizers for selecting the café for the exhibition and mentioned EHICA as an example of European common cultural heritage which pairs ideally with the scope of Animate Europe.
After Chania, the torch was passed to Oropos, an Athenian coastal suburb forty kilometres to the North. The collage of people of Attic decent and displaced Greeks from Asia Minor has created a dynamic and open cultural environment. In this sense it was a good opportunity to host “Animate Europe” in Oropos, following an invitation by the Mayor to present the exhibition at the city’s 3rd Annual Book Fair.
The exhibition was open to the public from 19-31 July 2018 at the historical building of the Old Penitentiary, especially inviting students, professionals, journalists, members of the local civil society and interested citizens alike to visit and grab their own copy of the comic book.
On Wednesday, 18 July 2018, the FNF and the City of Oropos hosted the opening ceremony for both “Animate Europe” and the Book Fair at the harbour. This year’s fair has a special focus on Europe and the European identity, so the topic of the comic book was very fitting to the overall theme of the event.
The ceremony was opened by Michalis Tolias, President of the Municipal Cultural Department, who thanked the FNF on behalf of the municipality for choosing Oropos to host the exhibition. Dr. Athanasios Grammenos from FNF Greece then described the central idea of the comic competition and its objectives: “We support the European idea, and we see Greece as an integral part of the EU. With this exhibition we aim to stimulate the dialogue about our joint future and stir reflections especially among young people.”
The keynote speaker was a distinguished guest, Haris Theoharis MP. An independent Member of the Greek Parliament and a liberal-minded politician, Theoharis elaborated on the meaning of Europe for today’s Greeks. “Since the late 1970s and for many years, Europe was an anchor for liberal democracy and a path to political transition”, he replied. “Today, the situation is different. Many new problems have emerged. However, the solution is neither to be found in isolation and nationalism nor in populism. Only within the framework of a united Europe we shall overcome our common social and economic challenges. We are looking for a modern European renaissance”, he concluded.
Lastly Thomas Roussis, the Mayor of Oropos, expressed his warmest regards for this pan-European event, hoping that it is only the beginning of a new connection between the City of Oropos and political happenings in the rest of Europe.
If liberalism is for free market economy, then entrepreneurship stands at its very core. Innovation, private initiative and economic freedom are the most important elements for an individual to grow and for society to prosper.
Greece may still be in crisis, but many of its people dare to invest on themselves seeking opportunities in entrepreneurship. To support young entrepreneurs getting the fundamentals and implementing their own start-up idea, FNF Greece hosted the “3rd Entrepreneurship Academy” in Xylokastro together with various partner organizations. Michael Iakovidis, Co-Founder of the Greek Liberties Monitor (GLM), participated for a day and presented the GLM/FNF co-production “Greek Crisis Success Stories”. Continue reading →