Freedom Team Interview: Martin Kothé in Focus
Meet Martin Kothé, our new Regional Director for FNF East and Southeast Europe and Project Director for Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Greece.
Martin Kothé has joined FNF in early 2020 after 10 years as a Managing Director for FTI Consulting in Berlin, a US strategic communications consultancy. From 2004 to 2010, Martin was working as spokesperson to the German President Horst Köhler during his tenure in office. Prior to that, Martin served as communications director and spokesperson of the German liberal party FDP affiliated to FNF (1999 - 2004). He started his career in journalism, learning the trade in the German Section of the BBC's World Service from 1988 - 1991. Later he became a parliamentary correspondent for the national all-news station n-tv. He holds a MA in Modern History, graduating from Berlin’s Free University in 1988. Martin is married with three children.
Please share a few words about yourself?
A friend of mine once labelled me an adventurer, because I held down so many jobs in different professions in my life, i.e. in journalism, politics, consulting, and now in political education. It’s true that I always have been seeking for change when I felt things became routine, but I don’t see myself as an adventurer in the true sense of the word. I just managed to stay curious, and whenever a new chance came along, I grabbed it. Most of the time, this paid off, and I count myself a lucky guy.
Which liberal values you are most passionate about?
Tolerance. Freedom as the space within which you have a chance to develop. And: “Ever tried. Ever failed. Ever tried again.”
The Professional Journey of Martin Kothé
Tell us more how your career in FNF has evolved so far?
I joined FNF in March 2020, starting my 4-month preparatory service at the head office in Potsdam. Two weeks into it, Covid-19 came along, and I was confined to the home office. Thanks to the excellent FNF team that navigated me through this period, I still learnt a lot about the foundation, and I was particulary impressed by the breadth and width of its impact, be it at home or abroad.
Taking up the position from FNF legend Rainer Adam, I know (and sometimes am reminded of) that it’s big footprints I am stepping in. But actually, it was Rainer himself who encouraged me to take the leap from each of his footsteps, and I enjoyed the greatest transition of my lifetime. We became friends in the process.
At FNF, I have two hats on: one is the hat of the project director for Bulgaria (my new home), North Macedonia, and Greece, and my team and I do our best to support our partners in promoting democracy, the rule of law, freedom and human rights. The other hat is that of the Regional Director of FNF ESEE, overseeing our offices in Belgrade, Bucharest, Moscow, Kyiv, Tbilisi, Istanbul, Athens, Sofia. My colleagues in these offices cover 17 countries altogether, and I am proud to be at the helm. We like to see our region as the most dynamically evolving in the world these days, and very much feel we are at the frontline for the defense of freedom.
How would you contribute to the mission of FNF and the pursuit of Freedom?
With ten years in journalism, ten years in politics, and ten years in strategic consulting, I am confident I have something to offer to FNF. I spent most of the last 30 years in Germany, so at least I can provide an outsider’s perspective in comparison to my peers.
What you are most proud of?
I am most proud of my team.
Why is promotion of Freedom important to you?
I would be nothing had I not enjoyed freedom all my life. I have a life. So I’m obliged to make the most of it. For myself, but also for everybody else.