Freedom Team Interview
Freedom Team Interview: Martin Panov in Focus

martin panov 2
© FNF

Discover more about Martin Panov, who worked in the Regional Office of FNF for East and Southeast Europe as an Interim Coordinator Regional Dialogue Programmes & Project Management.

I’m a Law graduate from the Freie Universität Berlin, where I specialised in European and International law. On top of that, I also completed a LLM in European Law at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. I started my career working for the Bulgarian Competition authority, but soon after I moved to Brussels to join the European Commission. For over six years I was working on the Cyprus conflict, its legal and political implications, and the EU’s support to the reunification of the divided country. My department was implementing a programme to support the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community. In parallel, I was in charge of the management of the Green Line Regulation, setting the rules for the movement of people, goods, and services across the dividing line on the island. As you can imagine, this was a unique and very challenging experience, which I enjoyed immensely.

In 2020 I moved back to my hometown of Sofia and joined the Regional Office of FNF East and Southeast Europe from July 2021 until March 2022. 

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Open-minded, easy-going and organised.

Why is the promotion of Freedom important to you?

Freedom means being able to follow your own path and to fulfil your own potential. Promoting Freedom is the best way to support people in finding their strength to reach their goals. 

As Don Quixote said: "Freedom, Sancho, is one of the most precious gifts that heaven has bestowed upon men. No treasures that the earth holds buried or the sea conceals can compare with it. For freedom, as for honour, life may and should be ventured.''

Martin Panov
© FNF

3 fun facts about you

1. To date, I have lived in 6 different countries (Bulgaria, the USA, Hungary, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium).

2. I am part of an NGO that was co-created with friends and former classmates that provides, among others, a scholarship and mentoring programme to support young and talented Bulgarian students with proven academic accomplishments and social engagement.

3. Last, but not least - I have a Cypriot cat called Munchy. She is simply the best! I found her as a baby in Cyprus, brought her home with me to Belgium and then to Sofia.

Which liberal values you are most passionate about?

Given my legal background, it should not come as a surprise that I place a lot of importance on the rule of law, democracy, and the protection of human rights. We witness the relevance of these principles on a daily basis. We can’t afford to simply take them for granted. On the contrary – we need to constantly reinforce them to preserve them.

How would you describe your FNF career in three words?

Although it was rather short, I would describe it as passionate, positive, impactful.

Martin Panov

What has been the most interesting and challenging about your position in FNF?

I find it extremely interesting that the position focuses on the whole region of East and Southeast Europe. It has provided me with the opportunity to work with people that operate in often very different political and social landscapes. At the same time, they nevertheless have common values and share a great commitment to their work. It has been great to take part in a project that promotes freedom across our continent.   

At the same time, I hope that we will manage to overcome the main challenge that has kept us isolated at home for one and a half years. In order to promote freedom and bring people and communities from Europe together, we need to be free to travel, to exchange knowledge and experiences, and to overcome physical and social barriers. We cannot achieve impact by simply sitting in front of our computers. It is, therefore, crucial that each one of us takes responsibility for keeping each other safe and hence my appeal to everyone: please get vaccinated.

Given your background so far, what and how would you contribute to the mission of FNF and the pursuit of Freedom?

My professional experience has taught me that the most successful projects are not those in which you do someone’s work or offer ready-made solutions, but rather the ones in which you motivate and inspire people to seek change from within their own community. I believe that this is the way forward to achieve tangible objectives. I see that as the philosophy of my work.