Freedom Team: „One Foundation“ in Sofia
I would like to share my impressions from the two-month exchange program "One Foundation" in Sofia. This was a wonderful time to experience the work of the FNF between Croatia and Russia up close from the Regional Office of FNF East and Southeast Europe, based in Bulgaria.
I had the chance to get to know true freedom fighters at work, starting with our great local teams, who work under politically often adverse conditions in their home countries for a complete democracy in the broadest sense, who fight for and defend the rule of law, human rights and the liberal basic order against corruption and authoritarian, often criminal power structures every day anew, via our manifold partners from politics and civil society, to experienced project leaders. Furthermore, I was able to co-organize events and workshops with the foundation partners, take part in demonstrations of civil society in Bulgaria and conduct interviews with politicians as well as review evaluation and revision results. In short, I was able to experience our structures and everyday working life in Yerevan, Sofia, Prague, Skopje and Kiev.
What impressed me the most is hard to say - everything, but the event from the Future of Freedom Consultation series "Innovate the Promotion of Freedom" in Kiev was definitely one of the absolute highlights. A very strong group of participants from all over the region met there, together with a larger Ukrainian delegation. Here the liberal urge for freedom was omnipresent. This will to fight together against corruption, social backwardness, authoritarianism and nationalism and for European values, peace and progress, with the Foundation for Freedom as a home base for the search for solutions and joint projects, actually creates a sense of community among very different and extraordinary personalities and provides for the overcoming of problems and obstacles.
With this great wealth of experience, new ideas for the activities of our International Media Dialogue Programme in Berlin, my actual area of work in the Global Issues Unit, which I have been able to help shape since 2016, and acquaintances with potential partners for this, I as Eastern European scientist now return to Germany with a crying and a laughing eye. But I always go back with the conviction that FNF's work in the region makes a major contribution to the peaceful further development of Europe and must continue with our partners or even be deepened at some key points of political education and dialogue, e.g. in media freedom defense and corruption reduction, so that imminent dangers for the whole of Europe can be averted and setbacks prevented.
After almost twenty-five years of working for FNF at the German headquarters of the Foundation, I am more motivated than ever at the end of my exchange in Sofia to make a personal contribution to the promotion of democracy and the rule of law as part of our work abroad. I am grateful to be able to deepen and use my skills for this purpose - always further and often differently than originally thought because freely according to the ancient Heraclitus motto that gives meaning to liberals: Nothing is as constant as change.