Freedom Team Interview: Beate Apelt in Focus
What is your favorite Freedom quote?
Thucydides: "The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage."
Please share a few words about yourself?
I graduated from Free University Berlin in Political Science and East European Studies. My program included two terms at the University of Birmingham at the Center of Russian and East European Studies. My interest was always in the transformation processes of Eastern Europe as well as in International Relations. Before joining Friedrich Naumann Foundation, I worked as a Research Fellow and Senior Administration Manager at the Center for Global Politics in Berlin. Besides my professional work I have always been involved in civil society projects, from organizing academic conferences to building up projects for and with refugees.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Open, optimistic and pragmatic
Tell us more how your career in FNF has evolved so far?
I joined FNF in 2013, working in the head office in Potsdam first as a desk officer for Southeast and East Europe, then heading the division for Southeast and East Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. In 2017 I got the great opportunity to go to Kyiv as the new representative of the Foundation for Ukraine and Belarus.
What is your biggest achievement in FNF so far? What you are most proud of?
In the last couple of years my Potsdam team was able to develop some high-profile events that attracted a lot of attention to crucial liberal values. I am thinking in particular of the Raif Badawi Award, which is conferred to courageous journalists from the Islamic world – this year the imprisoned Turkish journalist Ahmet Sik –, and the Boris Nemtsov Forum that brings together Russian civil society activists for open discussions in times of repression.
What is most interesting and challenging about your new position in FNF?
While I enjoyed working in the head office very much, I am absolutely excited about diving into our actual project work, being in direct contact with local partners and understanding a bit more about my new country of residence every day. Ukraine is surely one of the most interesting and diverse countries in Europe, and from a political point of view it is a crucial one for all Europe. Though neither the political developments in Kyiv nor the situation around Donbas give much reason for optimism at the moment, Ukraine has an active civil society that is highly committed to changing the country for the better. Supporting the freedom-oriented forces in civil society, promoting local self-governance, citizen’s participation, human rights and good conditions for entrepreneurial activities is where we hopefully can make a difference.
Given your background so far, what and how would you contribute to the mission of FNF and pursuit of Freedom?
Having experience from two different political systems, I learned to appreciate different kinds of freedom – I enjoy the freedom to build my own life but I know that is possible only on the basis of the much more fundamental freedoms our country is built on: freedom from repression, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience. I think having these various perspectives is a good precondition for working in a society that is currently struggling for freedom on more than one level.
What is your Freedom message?
The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.