FNF in Turkey
30 Years of Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Turkey
It’s been 30 years since the Friedrich Naumann Foundation started its political educational work in Ankara. Since 2002 also from Istanbul we have been, together with partners from civil society, science, economy and journalism, promoting liberal values in society as well as the dialogue between Turkey and Germany as well as other countries in the region.
The anniversary comes at a time where after months of the pandemic in-person meetings are finally possible again. We have taken this opportunity to do that which we had to do without for a long time: to learn from each other in real settings. About 20 representatives from partner organizations from civil society, science and journalism got together in late autumn Bodrum for a several day long Capacity Building. The motto was “Restart Freedom Journey”. Whatever drives us in our daily work, be it human rights, the rights of minorities or women, the environment, culture and foreign affairs, we are all occupied with the same questions: How to be even more successful as an organisation? How to reach the people and target groups that are important to us? And how to organise meetings and events that really mean and move something?
Those were the questions we tackled throughout three intensive days with the support of international facilitators. In doing so the participants discovered new perspectives for their own organizations, practiced innovative teaching and learning methods and exchanged views on their work and related challenges. This several day long gathering in a relaxed environment away from daily life contributed if nothing else to reestablishing relations and building trust again.
While the Capacity Building days were dedicated to the work and development of our foundation partners themselves, the fourth day of the gathering was outward bound: together with experts from economy, science, civil society and the media we discussed at three round tables the “Future of Freedom in Turkey”. The first panel concerned itself with what different sectors, i.e. political parties, independent media representatives, human rights organizations or scientists, could contribute to a democratic development in Turkey. The second discussion was dedicated to the civil society sector, the role the youth can play and new organizational formations such as social entrepreneurships. The future of EU-Turkey relations was the final agenda point. Experts shed light on opportunities and challenges of collaboration and left no doubt when they said that global challenges, be it in the areas of security, migration or the protection of the climate, had to be best met cooperatively.
Following lively discussions the day ended with a festive dinner under the Bodrum night sky. Guest of honor Anne Brasseur, member of the board of trustees of the Foundation and former president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, gave us some food for thought and encouraging words to take along by outlining the increasing threats for free, open and peaceful societies because of for instance lacking solidarity vis-a-vis migration flows, growing hatred and intolerance and the rise of authoritarian populism. She extended her appreciation to the Turkish partners of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, who with great courage defend the three pillars of the Council of Europe, human rights, democracy and rule of law, and remind us that even today we still need to fight for them.
30 years of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in Turkey - the gathering in Bodrum was a moment of looking back and appreciation of the trustworthy collaboration with so many wonderful, courageous and invested partners. It was to a greater degree a restart in challenging times. Freedom here is, as in many other places over the world, an endangered species. The work is not done yet. That’s why “Restart Freedom Journey” equally means: the next 30 years have just begun.