How to Negotiate, Manage and Consolidate Coalitions – Programme for Political Partners from West Africa
Not long ago, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom welcomed a West African delegation from Senegal and Cote d`lvoire who wanted to be informed about how coalitions are negotiated, managed and consolidated in North Rhine-Westphalia. The programme aimed at giving the delegation members, who mostly had already attended a coalition training seminar in Dakar, some insight into the German political landscape and to exchange their views regarding the factors for stable coalitions with experienced liberal politicians.
The program started in Brussels a few days earlier, where the group met several representatives, who have been dealing with that subject at the European level. >> Read more about it here.
In Germany the group had its first meeting in the town hall of Leverkusen. Monika Ballin-Meyer-Ahrens, chairwoman of the Leverkusen FDP-council group, took her time to show the delegation the council’s meeting room. She then shared her experience with multi-party coalitions at the local level, using the example of the so-called Jamaica Coalition.
The German political system and coalition-building in Germany were the main subject of the workshop with Roland Werner, former Deputy Minister and State Secretary in the Saxon State Ministry. Topics of the workshop included human factors in coalition negotiations, different conditions in the new and old German states, channels of communication and the position of the FDP.
A special highlight was the visit to the regional parliament in Düsseldorf. Being guests at the plenary meeting, the participants had the opportunity to listen to the national chairman and regional chairman of the FDP in NRW, Christian Lindner addressing the low economic growth in North Rhine-Westphalia. His speech was followed by a heated debate about the root causes, as NRW currently ranks lowest among the German states. Angela Freimuth, vice chairman of the FDP’s parliamentary group in the regional parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia shared her experience in working in a government coalition with the delegation. A tour of the parliamentary building rounded off the visit.
At the Theodor Heuss Academy in Gummersbach the delegation had the opportunity to discuss the subject of future coalition-building with Jan-Frederik Kremer, Regional Director of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. In 2015 the Selfkant-opposition consisting of SPD, Pro Selfkant, FDP and Bündnis 90/Die Grünen had appointed Mr. Jan-Frederik Kremer as their joint candidate for the mayoral election in Selfkant. That coalition process was discussed lively.
The questions of liberalism at the international level, the history of Germany and why another political landscape has established in Germany were in the focus of the workshop with Wulf Pabst, seminar leader of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.
On the last day the delegation visited Ralph Sterck, leader of the FDP group in the Cologne Council. Being a long-time liberal politician, he was able to talk about many coalition-building processes of the FDP in Cologne. The delegation was particularly interested in the alliance formed between the CDU and the Greens to support the election of the current mayor Ms. Henriette Reker. When taking a look at the campaign publications, the participants got an idea of the different interests, needs and sensitivities of the allies. The alliance is still working successfully. Finally Mr. Sterck showed the delegation the town hall and the council’s meeting room.
The delegation had the opportunity to exchange views on the various types of coalitions with liberal politicians of the regional and municipal level. The fact that the meeting partners had different backgrounds was very helpful for the Delegation’s understanding of the federal system of Germany and to take home many new ideas.
There is rise in terrorism across the world, especially the Islamic State, which have taken over large tracts of territory in Syria and Iraq. This has led to the refugee crisis – millions of people seeking refuge in European countries including Germany, the venue of the seminar. The future of the Eurozone is in jeopardy. The European Union is grappling with one crisis after another. As a reactionary force, there appears to be a rise in right-wing forces in Europe, in countries such as Poland and Hungary, and elsewhere too; the fear being that long-cherished Democratic rights of the people could be a casualty. There are various other developments all across the world which are threatening the very survival of the little man, the little voter, the little citizen – with a free voice.
And against this tumultuous backdrop, a group of young lawyers, politicians and activists from 23 countries descended at Gummersbach for the IAF Seminar on Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights: the Liberal Approach. It was like getting a bird’s eye view of world affairs and then testing the times against the concepts of Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights.
We tend to become too practical and concentrate on actions without pausing to think about and clarify our understanding of concepts which ought to be the driving force behind our actions. What our very skilful moderators and the group discussions did was to clarify my own concept of what Rule of Law means. We learnt the various concepts of Rule of Law, from the thinnest (Rule by Law) to the thickest (Social Democratic Rule of Law or the fattest, as our liberal moderator preferred to call it), Rule by Law having hardly any safeguards and Social Democratic Rule of Law being a point where the State itself assumes the role of the Father, mother, guardian and regulator. The liberal approach is to prefer a liberal Rule of Law where the State is neither too intrusive, nor too withered away. The citizens are allowed to breathe and grow – the State only creating the fertile ground. I seemed to agree to the approach to a great extent.
The work group requiring us to explain the Rule of law and fundamental rights situation in our own countries enabled me look at India, my country, with an objectivity which I hitherto lacked. I returned as a citizen of my country and much in love with it, yet with the awareness of its deficiencies.
The discussions on fundamental rights and the three generations of Human rights was the one I greatly enjoyed. We poured all our ideas on to the floor and with the help of efficient marshalling of discussions by the mdoerators, we educated ourselves about democracy and democracies and rights and their extents and the general world situation of rights. What I learnt was that the liberals vouch for the first generation rights first and later move on to the second and third generation rights. I disagreed with Dr Rolf, our moderator and said that in my opinion, the first and second generation rights should go hand and hand. What the discussion culminated into is not important – but I took away from the debate a far enhanced understanding of the essentials of democratic thought and endeavour and I am much grateful to our erudite moderators. (Doctor and I have promised to continue our debate by email). To aid our understanding we were introduced to the Rule of Law Index published by the World Justice Project and the Bertelsmann Transformation Index, both of which will be of great help to me in future.
The underlying issue which overshadowed the seminar was the refugee crisis. Important questions about the right to freedom of movement (how free and unrestricted is it) were raised and we deliberated on them. Coming from a country having its own share of migrant and refugee problems, I was able to share my inputs. How far should refugees be allowed unrestricted access to countries like Germany? How far will they be able to blend with german culture? What could be the repercussions if they couldn’t. What security risks could be posed by refugees (with reference to the recent Paris Terror Attacks). We analysed threadbare, the problems – and possible solutions – rationing of refugees, establishing camps in their own countries run by the more developed countries. We also considered the legal aspects, which have helped sharpen my own understanding of refugee and migrant issues, being a lawyer engaged in refugee related work in India.
For 12 days, we were like family. It seemed barriers between cultures, religions, territories had all melted and the fact that we were all human beings possessing the same characteristics of humanity took precedence.
The excursions to Cologne and Strasbourg only increased the bonhomie and also gave us a chance to explore new places, meet new people and witness cultures first hand. We also made an interesting visit to the International Institute of Human Rights where we also became aware of the obstacles language could pose when working in the field of human rights. There can be no Rule of Law and fundamental rights without people. The food and lodging were excellent to say the least. Apart from the seminar proceedings, we had freewheeling yet engaging discussions at the bar and while travelling, sharing experiences from our respective countries. In the modern world, learning is exchanging.
The best aspects about this seminar were its emphasis on practical realisation of all that we were discussing and secondly, the freedom of expression it gave us. The world is becoming intolerant towards diversity and conflict thought yet here we were given an absolutely free forum where we could simply explain and express ourselves in the manner we liked.
Finally, we were asked to prepare project proposals to enhance Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights. We presented our proposals. The moderators were very appreciative.
I went to Gummersbach as a citizen of India and returned as a conscious and vigilant citizen of the world. My outlook has been broadened, the knowledge has deepened, and seeds of truly liberal thought have been planted in my being. I only expect it to grow and guide me in my actions and endeavours towards making the world a better place for ourselves and others.
I am grateful, IAF.
by Deepan Kumar Sarkar
Some impressions from our excursion to Strasbourg and Karlsruhe
Enlightenment, participation and progress—these three powerful words were not just the title of the workshop on Education at the IAF. They also represented what the participants felt were the key objectives of education in the 21st century. And in light of increasing intolerance and radicalization, they added a fourth—peace.
Heated arguments, passionate discussions and intensive sharing characterized the event that brought together 18 participants from 15 countries, an event that hoped to find some light at end of the tunnel on a topic that was very much close to their hearts. While 11 of the 15 countries had adult literacy rates of over 90%, the quality left much to be desired. The event didn’t begin in Gummersbach but online almost three weeks before. The online phase enabled participants to connect not just to each other but also with the topic in a deeper way. Participants shared their perspectives on the fundamentals of education, collated relevant country wide data on education, and also offered ideas on how they would address the most critical problems they see in their countries.
Overall the participants were connected by their anger and frustration about the existing state of education in their countries and general mistrust in the state as the only solution—the low and declining standards, lack of quality education universally available to all, low quality teaching, low prestige and lack of interest in supplying vocational training services and the lack of political will to improve education systems. At the same time they were hopeful about innovative civil society solutions (from small budget private schools to publicly listed education providers) and reviving the tradition of civil society provision of education (something that was wiped out with the advent of compulsory education by the state 1)James Bartholomew, Education Without the State: British private and charitable schooling in the 19th century and beyond and James Tooley, RTE & Budget Private Schools-What would Gandhi Think? ). Almost every region showcased inspiring stories of edupreneurship (India, Egypt, Brazil)—individuals who despite the domineering state and the existing conditions were breaking new ground and showing that quality and cost do not always mutually exclude each other.
The WHY AND WHAT of education: purpose of education is primarily self development!
Apart from equipping people for employment in a constantly changing environment dominated by technology and information (the information society), very important functions of education include the ability to learn and think for oneself, to develop one’s powers of reason, to be able to interact with other members of society peacefully and productively, to be able to resolve conflicts using peaceful means, to participate in democracy and public decision-making processes, to share knowledge and work cooperatively in groups. So education serves to meet ALL three objectives—social, political and economic. Seen together, these transcend the classroom and education can thus be seen as part of a life-long learning process with equal importance attached both to early childhood education and adult education. Therefore, the objectives of education are manifold, there cannot be a single definition of “quality” or the “best school or university”.
In order to be successful education must also be a pleasurable experience. More attention needs to be given to incentives not only for learners but for all stakeholders. The focus of all educational institutions should be to encourage independent thought, innovation and excellence.
Liberal Values: The Foundation of a Good Education System
Participants agreed that education plays a very important role in liberal thought and that all values that are important for liberalism have implications for education. For instance, tolerance often needs to be taught. When you talk about choice you cannot exclude education (Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “…Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children”). There is no one “best school” for all. Subsidiarity as a liberal value implies a decentralized system of education. Reason demands that pupils and student develop their ability to think critically. The idea that every one is equal under the law implies that access to (quality) education must be open to all.
The desire for the respect for individual rights also raised some questions. Can the parents’ judgment about their children’s education always be trusted? Must the state make choices instead, choices for the purported good of children? What if parents send children to schools that are academically poor, but offer other important things like safety, community spirit? And what if parents don’t want to send their children to school and teach them privately instead? Such questions suggest a paternalistic approach liberals do not share. Choice for liberals is an important end in itself even though it may not always lead to the “desirable outcomes” social engineers would like to see. The liberal approach is “to let many flowers bloom.”
The HOW of an Effective and Efficient Education System
The education system of the 21st century must satisfactorily tap into the number of opportunities for education, opportunities that technological and economic progress bring forth in terms of greater demand for skills, greater financial resources for investment, the emergence of edupreneursip, greater access to content, specialization, and an increase of diversity in the classroom. At the same time there are worrying threats to education today that need to be addressed: increasing costs, declining standards, extremism, radicalization, technology overload.
No matter how much one believes in the role of the state in education, private schools and universities are a reality and also reflect parents making conscious choices towards accessing quality education for their children. Teachers of tomorrow, in responding to such challenges, will have to play a greater role as facilitators, coaches, mediators and mentors.
Though there was universal agreement on the objectives of education, it was in the HOW that differences lay: How much of a role should the state and civil society play in critical functions of education? There are radical approaches, e.g. privatization and decentralization of the education system and moderate approaches that are incremental in nature, e.g. how to increase competition in the interests of increasing quality. This is something that was emphasized by Sascha Tamm, an expert working for the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF). There was an overwhelming agreement that the state has an umbrella role in policy making, financing and regulation and that civil society, on the other hand, must play a leading role in the delivery, curriculum 2)An example of government indoctrination of children from Argentina highlighting the danger of government’s role in curriculum design and assessment. Overall the state and civil society need to work together and cooperate in using each other’s experiences and know how, even in matters such as teacher training.
There was agreement that the principle of subsidiarity must apply to education. There are many examples showing that successful schools are schools that cater to local needs. This is also the case of Germany where school facilities are provided by the municipalities and the legal framework, curricula, and teachers are provided by the individual state governments. The federal government plays a very minor role.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||James Bartholomew, Education Without the State: British private and charitable schooling in the 19th century and beyond and James Tooley, RTE & Budget Private Schools-What would Gandhi Think?|
|2.||↑||An example of government indoctrination of children from Argentina highlighting the danger of government’s role in curriculum design|
The IAF International Seminar on Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Information 2015 took place from April 19th to May 1 in Gummersbach, Bonn, Cologne and Hamburg. Twenty-six participants from twenty-five countries world-wide explored the current state of media freedom in their respective countries and identified core threats like political oppression, religious fundamentalism, self-censorship and digital surveillance.
Media, unfortunately on the decline in recent years in a number of countries, was identified as an indispensable part of liberal democracy driving political liberties and fundamental rights. The optimism still linked to social media and the versatility of new mobile digital devices has been seriously cautioned by new authoritarianism and an increase in physical violence towards information-doers and practicing journalists in war-torn or conflict-prone societies. Digital spying and surveillance motivated by commercial or security interests add a new dimension of global danger to the freedom of information and the protection of privacy.
Visits to the Deutsche Welle in Bonn (read more about our visit here) and to leading German media houses in Hamburg complemented the academic part of the 12 days programme. The participants met various interlocutors who shared their practical experiences, insights and professional concerns.
In a final proactive work group the participants identified and drafted a number of concrete interventions and projects to enhance media freedom in their countries and regions in accordance with the concurrent UN World Press Freedom Day 2015 theme:
Let Journalism Thrive! Towards better reporting, gender equality and media safety in the digital age.
- – Freedom of the Press Report 2015 published by Freedom House
- – About the media situation in Turkey and Germany
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.
– A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
Never has an opening paragraph of a Dickens classic resonated more with liberals around the world, because let’s face it: it has not been an easy time for most of us. With populism, nationalism and extremism on the rise, times have been tough for those committed to realising more freedom, more choice, more equality, more human rights. Not only have times been tough, votes have been few. This rather stark reality is particularly present when 25 liberal young leaders gather from across the world at a single seminar, their country’s flags on the table in front of them an unambiguous reminder of the difficult reality they face.
There is practically no region in the world right now not dealing with a growing connectedness and a deepening divide, of more entrenched human rights and increased brutality and volatility. The reality is, we live in a time of paradox and complexity, and our inability as liberals to respond to it with clarity, have cost us votes. While the power of the individual lies at the heart of what we believe to be true, I believe that it is our behaviour towards each other that hamper us most from crystallising a compelling message to our voters, that stops us from being a powerful force of positive change for the world.
But, back to the seminar for a moment. What happens when liberals from 25 different nations join minds during a 12-day seminar, some of whom hail from countries where the ideas liberalism represent are under immense threat, or not at all allowed. Having taken the first step of moving them from their usual environments to a neutral place, and the second step of surrounding them with fellow inspiring minds, how do you then best get them to interact with their own challenges?
Well, you give them time to think. And the best way to give a group of highly opinionated individuals time uninterrupted time to think, is within the framework of Nancy Klein’s body of work, The Thinking Environment.
At the heart of the profoundly life-changing Thinking Environment lies this premise: The quality of everything we do depend on the quality of the thinking we do about it first.
If we can presume that to be true, and most people do, we need to ask the logical follow-up question: If the quality of everything we do depends on the thinking we do about it first, under which circumstances are people able to think best for themselves? And the truth, Nancy has discovered, is that our ability to think well for ourselves depends almost entirely on the way we are treated by those around us. In other words, if we can create a particular type of environment for people, they will think well for themselves.
Enter the 10 components of the Thinking Environment, the mighty protectors of our ability to think well:
- Incisive Questions; and,
At the opposite end of the spectrum, lie the behaviours we have come to know as normal:
- Constant interruption: technological or human;
- Explicit power differentials;
- Urgency, crisis mode, haste and unease;
- Constant criticism;
- Competition and envy;
- The denial of diversity;
- Trying to think without having the necessary information at hand;
- The denial of feelings;
- Limiting assumptions; and,
- A place that says ‘you don’t matter’.
These are the enemies of the ability to think well for ourselves. And when they manifest in our own behaviour as leaders, they cause those around us to be unable to think well for themselves.
One of the building blocks taught as part of the Thinking Environment, is the thinking pair. This powerful tool seems deceptively simple in theory, yet in my experience remains one of the elements of the Thinking Environment that people struggle with most. Why? Well, because the Thinking Pair lives at the opposite end of our usual behaviour towards each other.
Here’s how it works. In a thinking pair, one person is the thinker and the other’s role is to offer their attention while the thinker is thinking. The thinker therefore receives a set amount of time during which they have an uninterrupted opportunity to think around a topic of their choice, with the thinking partner’s only role being to provide his or her generative attention as a tool to ignite the thinker’s freshest thinking. Once the thinker has completed their turn, the pair will swop roles.
For most, quite strangely so, the thinking partner is not listening to understand, to respond or to offer advice, the very reasons that often lie at the heart of why we listen to others. In a thinking pair, the thinking partner’s only role, simply and truly, is to offer their best generative attention. Attention that ignites. Attention that is interested in what the thinker is thinking now and where they will go next with their thinking. Attention that is uninterested in interrupting, in offering advice, in responding. The principles underlying this incredibly powerful, and deceptively difficult tool, lies at the heart of the Thinking Environment. It is this knowing that you will not be interrupted, that the thinking partner does not have to understand what you’re saying, that brings an incredible sense of ease during the thinking session and contributes to the thinker’s ability to go where their thoughts have not previously gone. To access fresh thinking.
Back to the seminar. Because of the incredible diversity present in our seminar, participants were paired in Thinking Pairs where no participant had a partner who spoke the same mother tongue. This meant that the person offering their generative attention did not understand what the thinker was saying at all, and could not offer anything else than their most powerful and present attention to the thinker. What magic in this paradox, this ability to give nothing but your genuine interest, and through that immensely powerful way of being both incredibly important in the process and not at all important, ignite in someone else previously unthought-of thoughts.
Upon reflection, this short session of thinking pairs at a seminar in Gummersbach provides a glimpse of what is possible for liberals around the world. The 10 behaviours known as the 10 components of the Thinking Environment, give us an opportunity to behave in a different way towards each other in the world. To start being differently towards each other so that we’re able to reconnect with our purpose and access our freshest thinking.
What we need most now, is to think well.
Can liberals offer each other this type of leadership, this set of behaviours to access the new ideas and thinking we so desperately need?
Can we step away from our own need to be right about what we believe about the world, our tendency to interrupt, the unease we’ve created for ourselves in the immensely volatile world we live in to a place where our best thinking prevails?
Can we meet each other in the Thinking Environment, as equals, with a genuine interest in going somewhere our thinking have not gone before? Are we brave enough?
by Marike Groenewald, Cape Town
Marike Groenewald is the Director of Strategic Markets at the Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s second largest political party and the Official Opposition in Parliament. In this role, Marike is responsible for engaging with a number of strategic voter markets, including people with disabilities, young professionals, South Africans living abroad and the LGBTI community in the run-up to the South African General Election taking place in 2014.
Marike is also the Director of the DA’s Young Leaders Programme, the party’s flagship political development programme, aimed at developing highly skilled, self-aware political leaders who are in future able to be senior leaders of the Party and of South Africa.
Over the past 6 years, Marike has served in many capacities at the DA’s National Head Office in Cape Town, most of which have been centred around organisational and people development for the Democratic Alliance and focussed on structuring innovative, relevant programmes and courses developing the Party’s talent.
Marike holds a Masters of Law degree, specialising in Intellectual Property and Labour Law, from the University of Stellenbosch and is a published poet.
The International Academy for Leadership – or IAF – is the most valuable and arguably also the most popular of the many international programs sponsored by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF). Over the years, a large number of young and also senior leaders from India have attended the courses in the Western German city of Gummersbach. FNF New Delhi’s Omair Ahmed was invited to join the recent workshop titled “Religious Power in Politics. Political Power through Religion?” as a co-moderator. We asked him to share his impressions.
“The seminar was filled with argumentative, boisterous and convivial discussions.”
This was only to be expected with such a sensitive topic, and with people from the Arab Spring countries like Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt, as well as from countries as varied as Mexico, Malaysia, Russia, Tanzania, the United States, Ukraine, the Palestinian Territories, and India. All of the participants felt strongly about the issue, some of whom asserted that they were ‘fundamentalist’ in their interpretation of faith, though not in a militant sense, while others stated their own ‘fundamentalist’ belief in atheism or non-theism.
The discussion was ably assisted by Arno Keller, a former country director for the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF), and assisted by Sagarica Delgoda, another former country director for FNF. They brought in a great deal of personal experience, from countries as diverse as Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Germany, trying to get at the root of the idea of secularism and what it means in the modern world. Referring to the multiple ways that ostensibly secular countries such as the United States, Germany, France and the United Kingdom have official religions, collect religious taxes, have religious political parties and a host of other practices, Mr Keller demonstrated the confusion on the very idea of “secular” for most everyone. Instead he encouraged the participants to discuss the issues and get at main principles and themes. Ms Delgoda spoke about Buddhism as a meniator of values, and how even such a religion could be manipulated for nationalistic sentiments.
While participants from the Arab countries, who had seen revolution and radicalisation recently, were often vocal in their fears and opinions, the important stories of the experience of minority communities in Malaysia and the role of religion in war-making rhetoric in the Ukraine-Russian crisis also figured in the discussion. An exercise by the participants, in which five groups were asked to list the basic values of liberalism, Christianity, Islam, non-theistic Humanism, and Hindu & Buddhist thought threw up a host of overlaps, showing the participants visually how much they had in common. The exercises were an important part of the seminar, as was the trip to Cologne and an interaction with the Rabbi of the Synagogue there. Each member of the group pledged to complete a particular assignment within three months of the end of the seminar, and when they parted, it was with a great deal of new thoughts, as well as with a number of new friends from across the world.
by Omair Ahmed, Delhi/India
This article first appeared on www.southasia.fnst.org: “Religious Power and Politics: An international liberal debate in Germany”,
7 October 2014.
Adnan Huskic, FNF Programme Coordinator for Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the recent violent protests in Bosnia. The riots are the most violent scenes the country has seen since the end of the Bosnian War in 1995. We talk about the current situation, the reasons and an outlook.
Interview by Dr. Lars-André Richter for IAF, 14. February 2014.
In our newest publication, IAF moderators Stefan Melnik and Rainer Heufers take a look at what a liberal policy approach on the issue of climate change might consist of. “Given the enormous differences of opinion within the international liberal community on climate change and how to address related policy issues, the document may be useful in identifying areas in which liberals might agree.”
The seminars of the International Leadership Academy (IAF, as per its German acronym) are part of the most popular and successful activities of the international effort realized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. Usually, participants are younger leaders from the counterpart institutions of the Foundation. Participants who have attended an international seminar in Gummersbach can never forget that experience in the short term, as the alumni state unanimously. In order to keep contacts and promote networks, alumni associations have emerged over the years in many countries. Such an IAF alumni club has been established in Algeria, as well.
Fifty years ago, the Foundation started its international initiative in Tunisia. However, the project effort in the neighboring Algeria started only ten years ago: the Foundation initiated a project in 2004 for the promotion of women, as well as juvenile employment-creation measures. In the meantime, the Algerian project is conducted from Rabat, in neighboring Morocco. A small-sized but compelled team in Algeria performs the tasks onsite.
The North African country has experienced a changeful, partially tragic, history: as a former French colony, Algerians have lived their own revolution and a bloody civil war. The country still suffers from its recent history; slowly and cautiously the largest African state, provided with huge oil and gas resources, is starting to open to the outside world: first, towards its neighbors, the Mediterranean region, and then eventually to Europe and to the rest of the world.
Influences from socialism, the repercussions of the Islamist violence, and the strong presence of the law enforcement bodies are elements that even currently influence the public and political life. This is not an easy environment for the liberal project task. However, the Foundation currently works together with a wide range of Algerian counterparts regarding human rights issues, women’s roles and economic reforms. A continuous dialogue with the youth is also a priority here. The Foundation closed last year a cooperation agreement with the entrepreneurial organization Cercle d’Action et de Reflexion autour de l’Entreprise (CARE). Its pleas in terms of market economy towards the government and ministers have a wide repercussion on the mass media. In this regard, the Foundation promotes, amongst others, activities related to labor law, decentralization or women’s roles, and also recently, climate change.
Kind words for Germany
In the last years, a dozen of Algerian leaders were invited by the Foundation to visit the Academy for Leadership in Gummersbach. Recently, Ronald Meinardus, regional office director, visited Algiers; in that occasion, the meeting to establish the Algerian alumni association was held in the facilities of the Foundation office in Algiers. Rüdiger Graichen, the project director, arrived from Rabat to attend the meeting. Even though participants come from different counterpart organizations, all of them have good impressions to tell from their stay in Germany. The alumni agreed upon a series of life-giving measures for their new network: besides maintaining the currently almost mandatory Facebook page, the Algerian alumni want to meet regularly in discussion rounds and seminars.
“The creation of this alumni group instills courage in a country where even small steps of communication, messaging and transparency, both internally and externally, can be troublesome,” says Graichen. And thereby, –as the project director continues– Algeria has the best conditions to provide new opportunities to its inhabitants: by opening the markets and strengthening the position of the country within the international dialogue.
This is where the alumni group wants to make its small contribution.
14. März 2013