Written by Nikolaos Zerzelidis, Secretary of Young Liberals Greece
On 20-25 of July the 9th Liberal Academy took place in Halkidiki. The Academy has been organized by Young Liberals Greece and the Greek office of Friedrich Naumann Foundation. During the first day of the Liberal Academy, the kick-off included team bonding activities between the participants, which were followed by a presentation of the team of Young Liberals Greece Eleni Siapikoudi and the International Officer Thodoris Sofianos presented the values, goals and activities of the organization in Greece and abroad. Moreover, Dr Athanasios Grammenos provided an interactive lecture about liberalism, in connection with Ancient Greece, theory and practice.
The second day was a really productive one. It started with a presentation from Eleni Siapikoudi and Spyros Diagkakis about active citizenship, volunteering and civil society and included interaction with participants expressing their views on the importance of participating in civil society organisations. George Meneshian was next and made a liberal introduction into the first post-soviet conflict in Nagorno Karabakh. Later, Prof. Katerina Lagos presented a historical perspective of Greek leadership. It was followed by a round table, where members of other foreign liberal organisations from Romania, Catalonia Spain as well as IFLRY provided their views on a liberal youth agenda in the post COVID-19 era. The round table aimed to present and inform the participants of issues that the EU faces and present these issues in the context of pandemic and its effect as well as discussing potential measures and solutions to deal effectively with these challenges in this unprecedented period of time. The day closed with a Video Making Laboratory, which included a division of participants into groups to work on their video project, presenting some contemporary issues through creative videos and scenarios. The day closed with a workshop on modern liberal leadership with Apostolos Siokas, explaining city branding and city marketing, motivating people to get involved with the empowerment of local society with liberal norms.
The third day started with a presentation on Greece as part of the Western alliance from Professor Katerina Lagos. Later on, there was a World Café, in which participants interacted on the freedom of speech, the challenges that exist about this issue as well as potential solutions in the context of liberalism. Thodoris Sofianos made a presentation on climate change, connected with liberal leadership which is needed in these critical times to deal with emerging issues. Later, Mr Aret Demirci made a presentation on democracy and presented the case of Turkey and after that, the teams gathered again to discuss further their ideas on their final videos.
The fourth day started with a workshop on Communication and the new media by Mrs Boryana Atanasova. The day included a visit to Paliouri in order to give the participants to take a break between the demanding and challenging presentations and workshops that this Academy included.
The fifth day started with Mrs Boryana Atanasova, making a presentation on communication strategies for young leaders in the context of liberalism. Moreover, in the context of communication, Professor Nikolaos Panagiotou talked about the young leaders and their role as communicators and how to successfully present their ideas and concepts. Later, Mr Kalaitzidis made a workshop on young leaders and how to present their ideas in a way to ‘get published’ in social media so as to convince their audience. The day included also a workshop made by Nikolaos Zerzelidis and Vasilis Mylonas on liberal responses to populism and the refugee crisis, which included a presentation of populist figures, the EU refugee crisis and the new EU pact on migration, published in 2020. The day was concluded with a debate on the obligatoriness of the vaccines against COVID-19, where participants presented a diverse set of options, views and solutions to this burning issue of global politics.
The final day included a presentation on modern trends in media by Professor Nikolaos Panagiotou as well as a presentation on the history of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom by Mr Aret Demirci. The day included a graduation, information about the membership procedure for Young Liberals Greece and future activities and events by the only Greek liberal youth organization.
Overall, this 5-day experience was a productive and fascinating journey for the participants. A friendly and inclusive environment gave them the opportunity to express themselves, share their views on various topics and justify their arguments. That’s the spirit of Liberalism, that’s the spirit that we need.