Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom
Some 25 years ago, the people living in Southeast Europe were still under communist rule. After a peaceful liberal revolution in most of the region’s countries, these people, in a historically very short time, succeeded in building democratic and market economy oriented systems with their newly acquired freedom. That is a huge success for liberal ideas. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom has supported these people’s democratization and the building of their civil societies from the very beginning through political consultations and educational activities. Also, the Foundation actively helped develop the region’s economic restructuring process through public consultations and by conveying valuable liberal concepts.
The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom has been working in Romania and Bulgaria since 1990 supporting a difficult ongoing transformation process. The period has seen significant improvement in the capabilities of our liberal partner parties and, what is more, European Union membership was extended to both countries on January 1st, 2007.
In the late nineties, the Foundation expanded its project work in the region, launching activities in Macedonia and Moldova. Our objective in all four countries is to strengthen liberal political parties and NGOs and to promote liberal policies within the framework of consolidating democracy and the rule of law, developing a market economy and strengthening civil society.
The Road to Europe
After accession to the EU, the project‘s work in Romania and Bulgaria was refocused. The primary task is now to assist leaders of the liberal parties, the youth movements and of civil society in adapting to new challenges brought about by EU membership: adaptation to new standards, full integration and the improvement of competitiveness. The main instruments we use are those of political consultancy, educational activities, political dialogue and publications.
The European Commission still periodically reminds the two new EU Member States Bulgaria and Romania of their need to deal with deficiencies in administration, the rule of law, political culture, and the fight against corruption. Our foundation addresses these same issues in two ways; first, we encourage our partner parties and their youth organizations to debate them in public and, second, we attempt to raise public awareness through addressing the same issues in our events and publications designed to promote European integration.
The Foundation uses the support of liberal think tanks to communicate the advantages of a free market economy, the prime objectives of which are to generate support for private enterprise, to promote understanding of the concept of economic freedom and how it creates economic prosperity and, consequently, an affluent society
Macedonia has the status of a candidate for EU accession while the Republic of Moldova has a long-standing interest in eventually joining the EU. Both countries see the EU as the only feasible option they have in their efforts to secure a free and prosperous future. However, both countries have to comply with a number of economic and political conditions before the process of accession can continue.
Projects in Macedonia and Moldova will also have a European dimension and this will be secured primarily through transnational activities and the close networking with the liberal organizations throughout the subregion. Two important aspects of our current work are increasing public participation at a municipal level and developing a new political outlook characterized by European values, values that are primarily liberal in nature. Promoting ethnic tolerance and the successful integration of minorities into the fabric of civil society is of special significance in our work.
In both countries the Foundation lends support to efforts in the following fields, mainly through political dialogue and political education: the adoption of legal and economic standards in line with those of the European Union, the transformation of public attitudes towards democracy with the aim of improving participation and the democratic decision-making process and, particularly at the local level, the initiation of measures that help to administrative efficiency and service delivery.
Future activities will include the establishment of regional dialogue forums for the cross-border exchange of experience and ideas in a variety of areas that liberals consider important: establishing the supremacy of law, promoting a “European” political culture and means of securing effective management.
A Stronger Liberal Profile and Identity
We organize special events designed to improve the democratic structure and the efficient organization of political parties and their youth organizations and to enhance the skills and abilities of decision makers and opinion leaders within them.
The aim is to strengthen liberal organizations and thereby help them to cope with the new challenges they face brought in an increasingly competitive and internationalized environment. This is a central aspect of our work. To this end political consultancy and political education focus on creating and designing modern structures for the liberal parties that are both efficient and participatory in nature. Master training programs on liberalism, communication skills and facilitation complement these efforts. At the same time care is taken to ensure that a sustainable system of internal training is established.
The main instruments used for implementing our objectives are seminars and seminar series, conferences, workshops, forums and publication of important liberal works translated into local languages, information programs in Germany and Brussels, and the international events organized at the International Academy for Leadership (IAF) in Germany.