Reshape Europe Conference
Europe must unite in the face of global challenges
If Europe wants to overcome the significant global challenges, it must strengthen its global partnerships and stand up for its values worldwide. The war in Ukraine has once again demonstrated the importance of global solidarity among democracies. The #ReshapeEurope conference by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom on October 10, 2023, focused on how to defend liberal democracy worldwide.
Protecting and Promoting Liberal Democracy
Karl-Heinz Paqué, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for Freedom, emphasized in his opening speech that liberal democracy is under threat from both within and outside. Anti-liberal movements are spreading in North America and Europe, while systemic rivals like Russia and China do not hesitate to use violence to enforce their alternative model of modern authoritarianism. "Also non-state actors, like terrorist groups, are a threat to liberal democracy. Oftentimes assisted by authoritarian regimes like Iran," Paqué said, referring to the disturbing events in Israel. " We condemn the horrific attacks against civilians and support Israel’s right to defend itself against this unprecedented attack."
We all need to be in solidarity. We condemn the terror of Hamas. Israel has the right to defend itself. That is what we stand for. Our duty is to protect liberal democracies worldwide.
Defending liberal democracy as a moral duty
Paqué made it clear, "It is clear that defending liberal democracy is not a passive endeavor but an active commitment. One that requires stamina." At the same time, he emphasized the need for Europe to take on this task, stating that "the defense of liberal democracy is not just a political imperative – it is our moral obligation to future generations.“
Rebuilding Europe Anew Ukrainian
Ambassador H.E. Oleksii Makeiev called for February 24 not to be recorded as a fateful turning point in the history books of European history but as a date of victory for freedom, demonstrating that freedom is worth fighting for. He urged the process of Ukraine's accession to the EU to be advanced while Ukraine strives to meet the necessary criteria. The ambassador reminded that Ukraine, 32 years ago, consciously chose independence and freedom, and Ukrainians are now fighting for European peace.
Picture gallery of the event:
Hackathons: Innovative Solutions for Global Challenges
Before the conference, the Foundation for Freedom had organized a global hackathon competition in which young people sought ways to strengthen the role of the EU in other world regions. The finalists from eight world regions - Western Europe, Eastern Europe, MENA (Middle East/North Africa), Sub-Saharan Africa, North America, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and South Asia - presented their ideas during the conference in three-minute pitches. Subsequently, the conference participants voted for the best idea.
The winner was Pragati Singh from India, who aims to strengthen values cooperation between the EU and India. One particular challenge in India is ensuring LGBTI rights, where the EU can make a difference. Following the EU's Health4LGBT initiative, she is developing an online platform called Qrate, where healthcare professionals can educate themselves about medical LGBTQIA+ topics and provide queer patients with information on trustworthy doctors and clinics. Jury member and JuLi federal chair Franziska Brandmann praised the project, noting its strong impact and feasibility due to its low-threshold access.
China and the EU: Global Rivals?
The second panel explored how Europe is perceived in Asia, Africa, and South America and how cooperation between democracies can be promoted. Participants included Sagarika Ghose, a journalist from India, Valeria Moy, Director of the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO), Isabelle Poupart, Deputy Head of Mission of Canada in Germany, Dorothy Jonas Semu, Vice-Chair and Shadow Prime Minister of the Alliance for Change and Transparency in Tanzania, Professor Dr. Frank Hoffmeister, Director for General Affairs & Chief Legal Officer of the European External Action Service, and the winner of the hackathon competition, Prigati Singh.
The panelists discussed the influence of China compared to the EU. Dorothy Jonas Semu explained that, in Africa, effective development models are primarily crucial. However, in this regard, the EU often lags behind other global players, as already shown in a study by the Naumann Foundation. In other parts of the world, Chinese influence is also viewed critically, and the EU's "soft power" is seen as an alternative. Indian journalist Sagarika Ghose emphasized that the EU's geopolitical visibility is not as significant as it should be due to China's dominant presence in the region. The EU is regarded as the guardian of liberal democracy in the region.
Rebuilding Europe is the task of the future
In the conference's closing speech, Anne Brasseur, former President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and member of the Foundation's board, emphasized the importance of dialogue and democracy. Brasseur also highlighted the significance of decision-making capacity, particularly regarding support for Ukraine and the enforcement of human rights across Europe. She mentioned the importance of implementing decisions from the European Court of Human Rights, noting that Russia has significant deficits in this regard. Despite various challenges, including disinformation and democratic backsliding in many parts of the world, Brasseur made it clear that the fight for human rights and democracy continues. She stated, that Europe has to be shaped. „That is our duty – for today, tomorrow and after tomorrow."