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LI Executive Committee: new programme details releasedThursday 12 May 2016 17:05At a time of growing anxiety over Russian expansionism, global extremism and varied threats to the liberal democratic order, LI's 196th Executive Committee meeting in Georgia next week is set to deliver a set of timely debates aimed at informing a common liberal strategy to respond to these challenges.
The first LI statutory meeting in the Caucuses hosted by the Republican Party of Georgia (RPG, LI full member) will take place from 20 to 22 May in Tblisi not far away from the disputed Russian occupation line.
The event will kick off with a discussion on freedom of belief organizied by Democraten 66 (D66, LI full-member) which will feature a fragment of the documentary movie "Among nonbelievers" produced by LI Human Rights Committee member Boris Van Der Ham. A reflection on the theme will be provided by Eka Chitanava – Director of the Tolerance and Diversity Institute in Tbilisi and Leven Berdzenishvili, Member of Parliament from RPG, under the guidance of LI HRC Member and Member of Parliament Stevens Mokgalapa (DA, LI full-member) who will moderate the session.
The following day there will be a dialogue bewteen the international officers and the LI Secretariat followed by the administrative session of the Executive Committee which will see a number of crucial decisions being made among which an ammendment to the Standing Orders of Liberal International and the selection of the new LI Human Rights Committee.
The theme conference on Countering Expansionism and Revisionism of Global Security Mechanisms will be preceeded by three key sessions on the Iran agreement, cyber-security and Daesh which will feed into the main discussion.
The Iran panel will present both sides of the argument which view the comprehensive nuclear deal beween the Islamic Republic of Iran and the international community as respectively an opportunity and danger to world security. Participants include Michael Astrup Jensen MP, (Venstre, LI full-member), Ahmed Al Rachwani, Vice-President of IFLRY (LI full-member), Annemie Neyts, LI Past President (Open VLD, LI full-member) and Dan Kucawka (UL, LI member).
The cyber-security panel is organised by the European Liberal Forum (ELF, LI cooperating organisation) in the format of Ralf Dahrendorf Roundtable. Under the theme Cyber-Security: How to Deal with Threats from Abroad? the discussion will focus on the challenges posed by cyber security and the impact this may have on international conflicts. Confirmed speakers include Lennart Salemink, Political Adviser to the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure (VVD, LI full-member), Keit Pentus-Rosimannus MP, Former Foreign Minister of Estonia (ERP, LI full-member) and Andro Gotsiridze, Head of the Cyber-Security Bureau of Georgia.
Under the title Can We Unite Against Daesh? delegates will present their views on strategies to fight terrorism and extremism with interventions from Jean-Jacques Flahaux Member of the Belgian Parliament (MR, LI full-member) and Ivlian Haindrava, Deputy Secretary of the National Security Council of Georgia.
The opening remarks of the Theme Conference are going to be delivered by LI President Dr. Juli Minoves and the President of the Georgian Parliament David Usupashvili with input from the Former Slovenian Defence Minister Roman Jakic.
The concluding remarks to the Conference will be delivered by the Georgian Minister of Defence Tinatin Khidasheli (RPG, LI full-member) to be followed by an evening reception celebrating the 38th Anniversary of the Republican Party of Georgia led by the party President Khatuna Samnidze.
The 196th LI Executive Committe meeting is being co-hosted by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF, LI cooperating organisation) and the Republican Institute.
A copy of the full programme for the event can be found by clicking here.
Final hours to register for 196th EC; new details releasedFriday 6 May 2016 11:05 For liberals, balancing security and liberty has always been a delicate equation. Today it has rarely been more urgent for parliamentarians, party leaders, minsters, and representatives of liberal political parties from around the world to come together, at Liberal International’s 196th Executive Committee meeting, to experience, debate, and find answers to some of the most pressing security challenges faced by humanity. Registration closes at 23:59BST today, Friday 6th May.
From the risk of cyber attacks capable of crippling state infrastructure to hammering out liberal answers to international terrorism, key security themes will be debated with parliamentarians from around the world as liberals meet in Tbilisi, Georgia at the invitation of LI full member Republican Party of Georgia (RPG). Convening for the first time in a post-Soviet country, on the front line between Russia and Europe, the timely theme debate will centre on countering expansionism and global security, with an expert summary from Georgia's Minister of Defence, Hon. Tinatin Khidasheli. Ahead of this debate, delegates will experience first-hand what a powerful regional actor violating sovereignty looks like with an escorted visit to the Russian line of occupation in Georgia.
Registration forms can be accessed via this link and must be returned before the end of the day, Friday 6th May
As the international community struggles to form a consensus on the underpinning of Iran nuclear deal, Liberal International will bring together representative from both sides of the debate to chart a liberal path with a panel entitled ‘The Iran agreement: A chance or danger to world security’. With hackers bringing down the online infrastructure of multinational companies and accessing sensitive government records alike, the panel ‘Cyber-Security: how to deal with threats from abroad?’, organised by the European Liberal Forum (ELF, LI cooperating organisation) will ask whether an online defence against future threats is really possible.
In one of the most topical threats to international security, that has wrong-footed many world leaders and left the international community without a coordinated response, LI will convene a panel to ask ‘Can the World Unite against Daesh?’ ahead of the theme conference debate ‘Countering expansionism and revisionism of global security mechanisms’.
Alongside LI President, Dr. Juli Minoves, senior representatives from the Georgian government –including the speaker of the Georgian Parliament and Minister of Defence - will be present to share their experiences of living alongside an authoritarian hegemon, in a country celebrated as an island of democracy.
Touch hearts to change minds and policies, says LI SG at IDAHO ForumFriday 13 May 2016 11:05 Ellen Trane Nørby, the Danish Minister for Children, Education and Gender Equality from Venstre (LI full member) hosted this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia – IDAHO Forum 2016 in Copenhagen, gathering a number of European ministers, politicians and representatives from various organisations and institutions. “IDAHO Forum 2016 is an important part of the struggle to break down the taboos regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, to stop discrimination and harassment and to strengthen cooperation across Europe,” said the Minister at the opening.
The Forum’s debates focused on LGBTI-conditions in the workplace and social acceptance of LGBTI-people for example in ethnic minority communities. The Danish liberal Minister identified these themes as “areas where the personal freedom to be with the one you want and freely choose your partner is under pressure.” She said “the struggle is needed” as throughout Europe “too many LGBTI-people are still excluded from equal participation in the society.”
Speaking on behalf of EU’s governing body – the European Commission, Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality (from ALDE member ANO, Czech Republic), presented the List of actions to advance LGBTI Equality: “This list is the Commission's commitment to work concretely on increasing the social acceptance of all our citizens and on reducing the homophobia and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation". Commissioner Jourová expressed the Commission's commitment to continue working on the adoption of the Equal Treatment Directive which envisages full protection of the rights of LGBTI people in the area of goods and services.
Liberal International Secretary General Emil Kirjas addressed the Forum on his personal life experience on social acceptance as member of the LGBTI community. He presented the important work that Liberal International and the liberals across the world are doing in promoting an end of LGBTI discrimination. “This is not a struggle about some special rights. Our work is to end any form of discrimination in the society and in front of the law,” said Kirjas. Emphasising the achievements in Africa in cooperation with the Africa Liberal Network (LI cooperating organisation) he appealed for close cooperation between political parties and civil societies in order to achieve “a real change”. “In many societies majority of people are unaware of the essence of the problem,” he said, before adding that the broad cooperation should focus on “touching the hearts of the people, in order to change mind-sets and alter discriminatory legislation.”
The present Ministers signed a non binding Memorandum of Understanding, committing to fight against homophobia and transphobia. The signatories recognize that LGBT people are an asset to society, that LGBT inclusion is good for the economy, that international cooperation is beneficial, but that there is still work to be done.
LI’s 196th Executive Committee meeting will be more accessible than ever before with the launch of a tailored EC App, which includes details about the programme, speakers, and event locations. Stay up to date and read on to find out how to download it to your smartphone or tablet now.
Based on the same technology used for the 60th Congress in Mexico City, the EC app allows delegates to access everything they need to know – from timetables to event panel speakers and locations - about the EC in one, easy-to-navigate, application.
LI has compiled a step by step user guide that explains how to download the app, which can be found here.
If delegates need further help with the navigation of the app, having downloaded it, an additional user guide – available here – explains how to access each section including information about the congress schedule, participants, maps, and social media.
A printable version of the most up to date programme can be found here.
Real time updates from the EC will be made via LI’s social media channels on facebook and twitter and delegates can engage with the action by using the hashtag #LIEC.
Georgian Minister of Defence invites EC participants to witness occupation lineThursday 12 May 2016 19:05 In the same week it was announced that a joint US-UK-Georgia military exercise will take place – with the US shipping tanks across the Black Sea for the first time – the Georgian Minister of Defence, Hon. Tinatin Khidasheli (RPG - LI full member) will host LI Executive Committee delegates for a study mission to the Russian line of occupation, among a series of culture and political visits that form part of the EC programme.
The conference, which is LI’s first in the former Soviet Union, focuses on the theme of ‘Safeguarding Freedom and Security’ and will shine a light on Russia's creeping annexation of Georgian territory, some 40 kilometres from Tbilisi.
As a part of the programme of the EC, the Georgian Minister of Defence, Tinatin Khidasheli, is inviting delegates to join a special visit to the ‘Line of Occupation’, up to where the Russian forces have advanced into Georgia’s sovereign territory. Before the visit to the demarcation line, delegates are taken to Georgia’s age-old capital and unique UNESCO-heritage of Mshketa.
The programme in Georgia, which remains the only democracy in the Caucasus, features discussion on a range of themes including Cyber-Security, Iran and Daesh.
On Sunday participants of the EC will have the opportunity to join for an optional cultural visit, including a unique visit to a winery in one of the wine regions that dates back to 8000 years and is among the oldest in the world. Those delegates who would like to participate are kindly requested to contact the LI Secretariat.
LI Secretary General meets liberals from Argentina and HondurasFriday 6 May 2016 01:05 Eliminating corruption, fighting populist economic policies and transparent governance are common commitments of the liberals from central and south America. That was concluded during a meeting of liberal parliamentarians from Argentina and Honduras who met in the presence of LI Secretary General Emil Kirjas at the Buenos Aires office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (LI cooperating organisation).
Gabriela Nuñez, leader of the parliamentary group of Partido Liberal de Honduras (LI full member), together with Paula Marcela Urroz and María Paula Lopardo, national Congresswomen from Union por la Libertad of Argentina (LI member) discussed together with FNF (LI cooperating organisation) Director for Argentina Jörg Denhert the strategies to achieve the joint objectives.
"The situation in Honduras is very grave, as our government is both corrupt and incompetent", said Ms. Nuñez. She added that Partido Liberal is working on a "completely new penal code" and reforms in the electoral code, "where ideas from colleagues in Argentina would be welcome." Saying that "Argentina needs to bring its electoral code in line with technological advancements", Congesswoman Urroz committed to working together, aiming at "removing the clear examples of fraud" seen across elections in Latin America.
At the headquarters of Union por la Libertad, LI Secretary General Emil Kirjas was welcomed by Dr. Guillermo Yanco, who was recently elected the new president of the party. Together with Dan Kucawca, member of the party executive board and foreign affairs advisor of the Minister of National Security, the LI Secretary General briefed on the "necessary and painful reforms" performed by the Argentinian coalition government in which the party participates. "We have adopted a party strategy which is based on honesty and humility", said Dr Yanco, expressing firm commitment to "be the clear liberal voice in the Argentinian government."
At the invitation of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF - LI cooperating organisation), LI Vice-President on the Bureau Markus Löning, has travelled to Kiev where, during a a panel discussion on the human rights situation in Crimea, Donbass and Luhansk, he called for an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation.
Opening the debate, Mr. Loening, who also chairs LI's Human Rights Committee, emphasized the deteriorating state of human rights in the occupied territories and called for an independent investigation by the ICC. "Both parties to the conflict commit human rights violations, but the occupied territories are a lawless country where slave labour and torture are rampant.The west must keep up sanctions against Russia to pressure it to stop the aggression. There should be investigations and lawsuits at the International Criminal Court against people who are responsible for crimes against humanity."
The core point of the discussions focused on whether Germany, the OSCE, the Ukrainian government and other international organisations are doing enough to stabilise the conflict in Ukraine. All participants of the panel agreed that the human dimension of the conflict requires greater attention.
Speaking alongside the former chaiman of the National Security and Defence Council Volodymyr Horbulin, journalists from Donetsk and representatives from the Crimean Tartars, Loening also pointed out to the need to secure free and fair elections in Eastern Ukraine but only upon the departure of all Russian soldiers from the conflict areas. "There is no way that free and fair elections can take part in the occupied parts of Ukraine at the moment. So western countries should insist that these elections can only take place after Russian soldiers have left the country and freedom of citizens and political parties is guaranteed as the OSCE standards for free and fair elections demand" he said.
Within the framework of the meeting, Loening held several bilateral meetings with liberal partners in Ukraine in regards to the current political situaiton in the country including with the Former Minister of Defence Mr. Anatoliy Grytsenko, who addressed the recent LI HRC meetingon the ten year anniversary of the Responsibility to Protect principle at the European Parlaiment in Brussels.
The Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD, LI cooperating organisation) has organized a week-long pre-election mission to Manila and Iloilo in the Philippines which featured delegates from Cambodia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mongolia, Taiwan, Thailand and the Africa Liberal Network (LI cooperating organisaiton).
The mission aimed to provide the participants with a general understanding and appreciation of the Philippine democratic system, electoral framework and political party dynamics ahead of crucial presidential elections on 9 May 2016 in the country.
Some of the highlights of the mission included a visit to the Liberal Party of the Philippines (LP, LI full-member) National Headquarters in Quezon City as well as a briefing with Commissioner Luie Guia and Spokesperson James Jimenez at the COMELEC (Commission on Elections) Head Office. Participants also paid a visit to the campaign headquarters of Senate President and Incumbent Vice-Chairperson of LP Franklin Drilon, who is running for re-election.
On the last day of the mission the delegation joined officials, members and supporters of LP at the historic Club Filipino for their event dubbed, “Tuloy-Tuloy, Sama-Sama” (roughly translated as “Continuing Together”). During the event, Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, who also serves as LP Chairperson, spoke with the party’s standard bearers, presidential candidate Mar Roxas and vice-presidential candidate Leni Robredo. “My countrymen, my bosses: we are honorable, we are decent and we will truly win,” said LP presidential candidate Roxas during the visit.
After the event, the delegation joined a forum organized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF, LI cooperating organisation) entiled “Bark: Unmuting the Silence on Martial Law”, which aimed to draw experiences from various countries with regard to dealing with military past. The forum proved to be relevant to the elections because the current survey frontrunners are either supporter of strong-arm rule, or personally connected to the Philippine martial law regime.
In the first and only broadcast debate between the candidates for Vice-President of the Philippines, the Liberal Party (LI full member) candidate,Leni Robredo, emerged as the public’s favourite, ahead of the elections.
EC registration deadline approaches as Hon. Usupashvili meets EP leadersThursday 28 April 2016 15:04 With one week left to register for Liberal International’s 196th Executive Committee meeting in Tblisi, Georgia, Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Hon. David Usupashvili, has been engaged in a series of high-level meetings in the European Parliament, where the Republican Party (RPG – LI full member) has been describing Georgia’s strong position moving towards the Georgia-EU Association Agreement.
Liberals will meet on the front line between Russia and Europe on 20-22 May 2016 to debate current trends in global security – from the Iran nuclear deal to strategies for fighting Daesh. With Russia annexing Georgian territory on a daily basis, delegates will travel to the line of occupation between the two nations and witness first-hand the realities of living alongside a regional hegemon.
Registration closes on 6th may 2016 - more information is available via this link.
Ahead of the Executive Committee meeting, Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Hon. David Usupashvili, met with leader of the ALDE Group (ALDE - LI full member) in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt MEP, in Brussels this week. Discussing the political situation in the county ahead of parliamentary elections in October this year, Mr. Verhofstadt reiterated his support for Georgia’s democracy.
The Liberal leader’s comments were echoed by the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schultz, who added that Georgia was a “strong association partner of the European Union… Georgia is a key ally in a region with a lot of worries.”
- Hon. David Usupashvili (left) welcomed to the European Parliament by ALDE Group leader Guy Verhofstadt MEP
Hon. Usupashvili commended the close working relationship between the two parliaments. “The association process is going as planned… [the relationship is important from] a cultural, economic, and security point of view… but this [agreement] does not mean we have completed our job it means we are on the right track… I am going back to my country with a positive message.”
- Press conference: Hon. David Usupashvili discusses Georgia-EU Association Agreement with EP President, Martin Schultz
Adressing delegates from more than 140 countries, LI President of Honour Lord John Alderdice (Liberal Democrats UK - LI full member), delivered some of the keynote remarks to the 7th Global Summit of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations held in Baku, Azerbaijan this week, with a focus on promoting peace internationally.
Under the theme "Living Together in Inclusive Societies", Lord Alderdice discussed the challenges to social integration bringing his wide experience to the particular difficulties of "Constructing Peace and Deconstructing Terror".
Stressing that violence is not really driven just by distorted ideas he said: "The problem of terrorism is not merely about a misguided ideology but is powered by angry feelings that drive groups to react with horrible violence. Unless we understand this more deeply and respond more wisely, the violence gripping our world will grow and spread and split us apart."
In his concluding remarks the LI President of Honour reminded of the difficulties the Caucasus region is still strugging with and advised that tougher security is hardly ever a solution to violent conflicts. "With your experiences over Nagorno-Karabakh I need to hardly remind people here in Baku that we are dealing with problems of disturbed historic relationships between groups of people. Of course security has a role to play, but it is rarely ever a solution, and such problems are never solved by ignoring our common humanity" he said.
Lord Alderdice recently hosted a debate on the implications of the refugee crisis for the future of the Responsibility to Protect Principle at the UK House of Lords which built on the debate held by the LI Human Rights Committee on the advancement of the principle in Brussels last year.
Climate Paris Agreement Signed - LI VP El Haité with a key roleThursday 28 April 2016 14:04“Today we are writing a new page in the history of this world; this is the first day for the new civilisation we are aiming to build,” were the words in New York of Hakima el Haité, LI Vice President on the Bureau, who is Morocco’s Environment Minister and COP22 Special Envoy for Mobilisation, at the signing of the Paris Climate Agreements at the UN Headquarters. Liberal International will hold its 197th Executive Committee meeting during the COP22 in Marrakech later in November this year.
LI leader El Haité spoke of “a historical day”, congratulating the parties for signing the Agreement “on a very symbolic day – the Earth Day.” Recalling how difficult it was to reach the Accords Ms. El Haité, in a debate with Dr Robert Orr, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Climate Change, said: “Now the issue is to maintain the momentum and to maintain the trust in making the Agreements operational.” She summarised: “Lima was the COP of negotiations, Paris was the COP of decision, Marrakech will be the COP of action”.
While in New York, LI Vice-President Minister El Haité held number of meetings with government officials, high-level UN representatives and climate activists. At the meeting with the Canadian Environment and Climate Change, Minister Chatherine McKeena of LI full member Liberal Party of Canada, the two ministers discussed the involvement of citizens in addressing climate change and promoting clean growth. McKeena presented a new interactive website of her ministry saying: “Engaging Canadians on our plans and efforts to address climate change is something I view as essential, and I hope that Canadians from coast to coast will take part in our efforts to create a climate‑smart economy and country.”
The UN Climate Conference COP22, will take place in Marrakech on 7-18 November 2016 and will be presided over by Salaheddine Mezouar, Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and leader of LI member Rassemblement des Indépendants (RNI – LI member). Liberal International’s decision to host the 197th Executive Committee meeting during the COP22 in Marrakech follows on the gathering of liberals present at the COP21 in Paris.
- LI VP Minister El Haite with Canadian Minister McKeena
- Leading LI members will lead COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco
Bulgaria's MRF new leader Karadayi: our "liberal brand" will endure Tuesday 26 April 2016 17:04Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), LI full member from Bulgaria, has a new leader – Mustafa Karadayi - who received the support of over 900 delegates at the 9th Convention in the national capital, Sofia, last weekend. In front of the high-level international liberal delegation and many national and international guests, Mr. Karadayi said “we have become liberal brand and any new political entity compares with it”, calling on the fellow party members to “prove that MRF will endure”.
Improving Europe was a key theme of the congress. Senior members of the Liberal International Bureau addressed the Bulgarian liberals. “We must make Europe better to cope with the influx of refugees - we need MRF as our partner”, said LI President of Honour and ALDE Party leader, Hans van BaalenMEP. He said that MRF work “makes a difference” and that the party will “always be in [the Bulgarian] politics as a force.” Vice-President Robert Woodthorpe-Browne reminded of the “important role that MRF plays in the international liberal movement" through Dzhevdet Chakarov MP in the LI Bureau and Ilhan Kyuchuk MEP in the ALDE Party Bureau. He called for MRF to “help keep the United Kingdom in the European Union” galvanising support from the large Bulgarian community in Britain.
Secretary-General Emil Kirjas, recalled the words of the fellow Canadian Liberal leader and PM Justin Trudeau on multiculturalism, and called on Bulgaria to promote “such a role of education in embracing diversity" that will "end the need for young Bulgarians to immigrate to countries like Canada.” He criticised the PM Borissov for often resorting to language of division and urged the Bulgarians, in first line liberals, to take a lead in "materialising in practice” the slogan above Bulgaria’s national assembly – Unity Forms the Power. “Transpose that slogan in the European parliament, in all languages of Europe” urged Kirjas, referring to the recent divisions in Europe.
The new party leader Mustafa Karadayi noted in his report that "MRF is required factor in political life with its unique role in maintaining peace and security.” He stressed that “the liberal value code of MRF is extremely resistant.” He said that “task number one for MRF” should be the support for the small and medium enterprises that provide over 90% of jobs in the country. “We need to develop a strategy and implement concrete measures seeking financing on European and national level.”
Bureau convenes in Germany ahead of DGLI's Liberal International dayThursday 21 April 2016 18:04On Friday 15th April Secretary-General of theFDP(LI full member), Mrs Nicola Beer, welcomed the members of the LI Bureau to Berlin and marked the party’s string of electoral successes in three recent state elections. The meeting was the second time that the LI Bureau has convened this year and is the last meeting ahead of the 196th Executive Committee meeting in Tblisi, Georgia, next month.
At the FDP Headquarters in central Berlin the members of the LI Bureau observed a moment of silence in honour of the recent passing of former Ministers of Foreign Affairs Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Guido Westerwelle before discussing the preparations for the 196th Executive Committee Meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia, in May 2016, and the situation in the Middle East and in Latin America with Regional Director Dr René Klaff of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty and President Ricardo López-Murphy of RELIAL (both LI Cooperating Organisations) respectively.
On Saturday LI President Dr Juli Minoves, LI President of Honour Hans van BaalenMEP and Treasurer Manfred Eisenbach addressed the annual Liberal International Day of the German Group of LI (LI full member) on the mega-topic of migration.
LI President of Honour Hans van Baalen MEP, who is also the President of the ALDE Party (LI Cooperating Organisation) emphasised the importance of the current political crises: "We could cooperate with Russia, but we can also have trouble. (...) Putin's Russia is waging war. He did that in Georgia, and now he is doing that in Ukraine."
"This is land grabbing, as one says in English," he concluded in his speech to the audience in German.
Co-Organised by Liberal International and the United Nations Association (UNA) Westminster Young Professionals, the event discussed not only the humanitarian obligation to help people fleeing war and other desperate situations but also the economic and political impact of the refugee crisis as a basis for the reignition of the RtoP principle.
Presenting the recently published LI Booklet commemorating the ten year anniversary of the principle, Lord Alderdice said: "Liberal International has a long-standing commitment to the advancement and promotion of RtoP through its Human Rights Committee. LI itself was established in order to contain and prevent the rise in violence." Explaining further that violence is neither good nor evil, he stressed on the necessity to understand the psychology of groups committing violence as "violence is a public health problem."
Alongside the LI President of Honour, remarks were made by Lord David Hannay, Former UK Ambassador to the UN and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the United Nations, Kate Ferguson, Director at Protection Approaches, and Leisha Beardmore, Chairwoman of the UNA Westminster Young Professionals who shared her first hand experience having just returned from the Refugee front line in Greece.
The event was attended by representatives of the civil society sector in the UK, members of UNA, students and three LI Secretariat staff members: LI Secretary-General Emil Kirjas, Head of LI Human Rights Programme Tamara Dancheva and LI Intern Andrea Rusco.
The conclusions from the debate will serve as an input into a follow up position paper by the UNA Westminster Young Professionals
Liberals set to visit Russian occupation line as part of EC programmeThursday 21 April 2016 17:04 Emboldened by his political meddling in Ukraine and Syria, Russian president Vladimir Putin’s creeping annexation of Georgia’s territory will be examined by delegates of the 196th Liberal International Executive Committee meeting, who, with a visit to the occupation line between the two nations, will see first-hand the extent Russia’s seizure of another Georgia’s territory has had.
Upon the invitation of the Georgian Ministry of Defence, Minister Tinatin Khidasheli (Republican Party of Georgia – LI full member), who sits on LI’s Human Rights Committee, will support the delegation of liberals to a site described by journalists as “a rural Berlin Wall.” The visit forms part of the EC programme, which centres on countering expansionism and global security mechanisms, and conclusions will be discussed by the liberal delegates as part of a post-study visit debriefing.
Registration is still open to representatives of LI member parties and authorised guests until 6th May, with more information available here.
In an increasingly complex region, Georgia is seen as an island of democracy, making unpredictable Russian aggression highly alarming and the need for international attention from the global liberal family essential. The study visit forms part of an EC programme that will also see delegates debate strategies to fight Daesh, cyber security, and the role of Iran in the global security framework.
Delegates can engage with the EC debate online by using the hashtag #LIEC on twitter and facebook.
FNF hosts first meeting of Manifesto Drafting Committee in BerlinThursday 21 April 2016 17:04 The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF – LI Cooperation Organisation) has welcomed liberal thinkers from around the world to their headquarters in Berlin for the first meeting of the Drafting Committee that will oversee the completion of LI’s Manifesto for Liberalism in the 21st Century.
At the meeting, which was presided by LI President Dr Juli Minoves and the Executive Chair of the Drafting Committee Prof. Karl-Heinz Paqué, the members of the Drafting Committee for the Manifesto (2017) discussed the first stage in the drafting of Liberal International’s new manifesto, which is due to be published at LI’s 70th anniversary at the 61st Congress in the spring of 2017.
“Our philosophy is under attack from those who are very disappointed by the financial crisis and the free market economy. It is under attack by those that do it for political gain, the new authoritarians,” LI President commented on contemporary challenges to international liberalism.
“People like Prime Minister Orban of Hungary proclaim that liberalism is wrong and that society should aim for a kind of illiberal democracy. (…) As liberals we have to formulate new answers to these challenges,” he added.
The meetings of the Drafting Committee for the Liberal Manifesto (2017) build on the conclusions of the Oxford Process on Liberalism in the 21st Century, which was initiated by LI President Dr Juli Minoves in 2015.
Annual LI HRC meeting set to attract high-level participationThursday 21 April 2016 16:04Attracting international diplomats and globally renowned activists, Liberal International's Human Rights Committee is set to conveneat the headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland for the fourth consecutive year to debate the theme Imprisoned for Thinking.
This year’s event will take place on 24 June 2016 and it will feature the OSCE Special Representative for Freedom of the Media Her Excellency Dunja Mijatovic and the award-winning (formerly imprisoned) Egyptian-Canadian al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy among other high-level participants.
In light of the decline of civil and political rights in many parts of the world, the increased number of journalists and prisoners of conscience behind bars, and the ever-increasing number of liberal politicians harassed and threatened in their daily work, the annual LI HRC Meeting will focus on debating thought crime.
The event will bring together members of LI Human Rights Committee, human rights liberal parliamentarians, liberal politicians, diplomats and civil society representatives to discuss strategies to offer a powerful fight back for freedom.
The meeting is being organised in cooperation with the International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY, LI full-member) and the Swedish International Liberal Center (SILC, LI cooperating organisation) and it will take place within the framework of the 32nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
A copy of the draft programme and more details about the resgitration procedure can be obtained by contacting the Head of LI Human Rights Programme Tamara Dancheva at email@example.com
In Caracas LI VP Montealegre meets President of Venezuela’s Congress Wednesday 20 April 2016 15:04 Eduardo Montealegre, Vice President on the Bureau of LI, was on a three-day visit to Caracas, Venezuela, to talk with opposition leader and president of the Legislative Assembly of that country, Henry Ramos. The talks focused on economic relations and policies between the countries of Latin America. The visit comes after the surprise victory of the opposition in the Congress elections in December 2015.
Montealegre participated in the International Forum Caracas 2016 titled “Actions of the Parliament to Strengthen Democracy”. He had a range of meetings with leaders of the Venezuelan opposition. LI Vice President also met with liberal opposition leader and former Congresswoman María Corina Machado.
Montealegre, who is leader of LI full member PLI and the National Coordinator of the National Coalition for Democracy, spoke with Ramos Allup on economic relations between the governments of Nicaragua and Venezuela, which are based on the oil agreement signed by the late President Hugo Chavez and his counterpart Daniel Ortega.
Pauline Kastermans - new leader of IFLRYTuesday 19 April 2016 17:04 For second time in a decade IFLRY - the International Federation of Liberal Youth (LI full member) - held its General Assembly in Istanbul. Young liberals from across the world garthered in the Turkish city that spans across Europe and Asia, despite the recent terrorist attack. The GA saw Pauline Kastermans elected new IFLRY president.
Pauline is a member of the youth of D66, Netherlands (LI full member), currently residing in Beijing. She took over the post from Christian Scharling, who will continue to serve the young liberals in the LI Manifesto Drafting Commitee.The General Assembly adopted number of resolutions, among other things a calling for the establishment of a UN Envoy on LGBTQ2+ Rights, and for the elimination of coal-fired energy by 2030.
LI Secretary General Emil Kirjas addressed the 39th FLRY General Assembly and invited the young liberals across the world to give crucial contribution to the drafting of the international Liberal Manifesto 2017.
The newly elected IFLRY bureau:
President: Pauline Kastermans (JD - The Netherlands)
Secretary General: Tone Bjørndal (NUV - Norway)
Treasurer: Danylo Korbabicz (YLC - Canada)
Vice Presidents: Ahmad Al Rachwani (Future Youth - Lebanon) Sven Gerst (Julis - Germany) Ab Brightman (Liberal Youth - UK) Anders Rehnberg (LUF - Sweden)
Programme for 196th EC in Georgia releasedWednesday 13 April 2016 17:04Only five weeks remain until liberals from around the world convene in Tbilisi, Georgia, for the start of Liberal International’s 196th Executive Committee meeting. The EC draft programme offers an exciting perspective on one of the most diverse and strategically important regions of the world.
The EC, which will take place from 20 to 22 May, focuses on the theme of ‘Safeguarding Freedom and Security’ and gives ample attention to various perspectives on international security.
On the morning of Friday 20 May the programme will open with a panel discussion on the Freedom of Belief which is organised by D66 (Netherlands, LI full member), after which delegates will be invited to join the Republican Party (LI full member) for a study visit to the ‘Line of Occupation’ to witness first-hand the ever continuing, creeping annexation of Georgian territory by Russia.
After the Administrative Session on Saturday morning delegates are invited to join a series of panel discussions on various sub-themes of international security, kicking off with two thematic debates on respectively ‘The Iran agreement: A chance or danger to world security’ and a Ralf Dahrendorf Roundtable with the title ‘Cyber-Security: how to deal with threats from abroad?’, which will be organised by the European Liberal Forum (ELF).
In the afternoon the EC plenary will come together for the panel discussion on ‘Strategies to fight extremism preached by Daesh’, before summarising the findings of the respective discussions in the concluding theme conference panel ‘Countering expansionism and revisionism of global security mechanisms’ and joining the members of the Republican Party of Georgia in the celebrations for the party’s 38th anniversary.
More information on the Executive Committee meeting, including on the registration process, which remains open until 6 May, can be found here.
PH Van Baalen sees need for EU to improve after Dutch referendumWednesday 13 April 2016 16:04LI President of Honour, Hans van Baalen MEP, has described his reflections on the outcome of the Dutch referendum on the EU Association Agreement with Ukraine while the Dutch government, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, considers its options.
“People are furious,” the LI President of Honour says, “but only a third of the electorate came to vote, and of this one third [only] 60% said ‘NO’. That is of course alarming, but over two thirds said: ‘we wouldn’t go, the referendum isn’t interesting for us, or this is up to the government to decide. Two thirds of people didn’t vote at all,” he underlines.
“We have this result and a national election won’t change that. Europe needs to do less, and yet improve those few things that it does. We have to master the refugee crisis, and this is proving very difficult. This is very concerning for the people in the Netherlands, in Germany and in all the other member states. Europe should not just talk, but act,” the LI President of Honour, who is also the President of the ALDE Party (LI Cooperating Organisation), added.
“Eleven years ago (…) the EU’s Constitutional Treaty was also rejected. 60 per cent of votes did not vote and of those who did, 60 per cent said no,” he said.
Ahead of the referendum leading liberals such as former European Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, encouraged the Dutch to vote in favour of the Association Agreement.
“Now we have referendums and the trade agreement with America, TTIP, is also a [potential] problem. It has a negative reputation,” the LI President of Honour said, cautioning that more referendums might follow on other topics.
The 60th LI Congress in Mexico City fully recognised “the right of the people of Ukraine to decide on their future” and welcomed “further integration of Ukraine into the trans-Atlantic alliance [calling] on the international community to support Ukrainian efforts for a democratic transformation and economic modernisation.” Congress also expressed “its deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the victims of the downing of flight MH17 over Eastern Ukraine” and called “for an independent and transparent international investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
In March 2015 an LI delegation visited Ukraine to meet with representatives of various post-Maidan liberal parties.
LI welcomes working group chair to HQ ahead of presidential inaugurationWednesday 13 April 2016 16:04 Chair of Liberal International’s working group on women’s rights and the deputy director of the international department of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP - Taiwan), Dr. Ketty W. Chen, was welcomed to LI headquarters in London this week where she discussed the political priorities of president-elect, Dr. Tsai Ing-wen, and described her shock at the abduction of Taiwanese citizens from Kenya.
Dr. Chen reported the abduction of Taiwanese citizens from Kenya by Chinese authorities. In a development that risks diplomatic scandal, Taiwanese citizens who are suspects in a police investigation were forcibly handed over to the Chinese authorities, in spite of the fact that some of those handed over had been cleared of charges. “As a Taiwanese person it is horrifying for me to think of the extent to which this incident sets horrible precedent for China to snatch foreign citizens on foreign soil”, said Dr. Chen.
A key figure in the successful DPP campaign to elect Dr. Tsai, Dr. Chen spoke about the objectives of Taiwan’s first female president revolving around building the economy and ensuring her administration protects the liberal democratic values that Taiwanese people have come to cherish. The Inauguration of Dr. Tsai as President of Taiwan will take place on 20th May 2016 and be attended by Liberal International’s President of Honour, Hans van Baalen MEP, and LI Patron Lord David Steel.
How to foster the next generation of female political leaders and entrepreneurs? This was the central question posed by Liberal International’s Vice-President and Human Rights Committee Chair, Markus Löning, as he introduced the fifth edition of LI’s Human Rights Bulletin, which saw contributions from top international liberal parliamentarians and NGO experts.Read the Bulletin here.
Drawing on the expertise of Nurul Izzah Anwar MP, Member of Parliament from the People's Justice Party in Malaysia (PKR, LI full-member), Birgitta Ohlsson MP, Former Minister for European Affairs from Sweden (Liberalerna, LI full-member) and Sandra Pepera, Director for Gender, Women and Democracy for National Democratic Institute (NDI - LI cooperating organisation), the 5th edition discusses the importance of international cooperation in tackling violence against women and the value of education as the starting point for giving women the freedom to shape their own future.
Elaborating on her experience as the only female Member of Parliament to have been arrested for speaking out in Parliament, Izzah Anwar writes: "As International Women’s Day passed this year (8th March 2016) I realize it is now close to a year since I was arrested for sedition; and more than a year since my father, Anwar Ibrahim - the then Opposition Leader was imprisoned.There is no comparison between the two incidents – my one night was but a mere glimpse of his years being detained for his principled conviction – more than a tumultuous ten years for being a prickly conscience against the government of the day.
I believe the idealism that continues to thrive in Liberal International is one that provides hope for a better and sustainable future. Let's resolve to provide more opportunity to defend and highlight the plight of women and children."
Ohlsson on the other hand points out that recently the feminist debate has all too often focussed on issues such as the female body and beauty myths rather than on the importance of women's financial independence."The defence of a woman’s right to her body, knowledge and struggle, is of utmost importance. But one must not forget the economy. Women working and earning their own money is the foundation of female emancipation" she concludes.
In a short two minute video message Dr. Pepera explains what difference women in poltics make referring to the recently launched NDI #NotTheCostcampaign on ending violence against women in politics which is now officially supported by LI as announced by LI President Dr. Juli Minoves during the campaign launch event in New York last month.
The LI Human Rights Bulletin is a quarterly edition which aims to publicize the work of LI Human Rights Commitee and also share liberal views on urgent human rigths issues from around the globe. Subscruption is free of charge and can be done by clicking here.
Macedonian liberals call for protests after President's blanket amnesty for politiciansWednesday 13 April 2016 11:04Macedonia’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP - LI full member) has called for the resignation of the President and for street protests following the abrupt decision of President Ivanovto pardon all politicians facing criminal investigations in multiple scandals. “Siding with politicians-criminals”, “violation of the rule of law” and “overthrowing the constitutional order and the judiciary as an independent branch” were some of the conclusions of Macedonia’s liberals when calling for a “battle for the future of the children” on the streets of the nation.
The international community reacted in disbelief. Expressing astonishment, LI President Dr Juli Minoves called this “another sign of what Alexander Cooley describes in his article "Countering Democratic Norms": ‘Beyond vocal criticism of the West as a problematic champion of democratic norms, a larger international backlash against liberal democracy has grown and gathered momentum. Over the past decade, authoritarians have experimented with and refined a number of new tools, practices, and institutions that are meant to shield their regimes from external criticism and to erode the norms that inform and underlie the liberal international political order’."
LI President of Honour and ALDE Party President Hans van Baalen MEP,said that "Macedonian President Ivanov's pardon to politicians involved in wiretapping affair is flagrant breach of EU-brokered deal of July 2015." LI Treasurer Manfred Eisenbach commented that “there cannot be any compromise” on understanding or interpretation of both the rule of law and EU's acquis communitaire. EU’s commissioner responsible for Macedonia Johannes Hahn said that the act of the president is “not in line with [my] understanding of rule of law”.
Emil Kirjas, LI Secretary General, commented that “the leadership of Macedonia is not demonstrating a local phenomenon, but a growing tendency of undemocratic attitude”. He concluded: “such arrogance is the best testimony to it.”
The opposition united around the proposal of LDP President Goran Milevski who at the party convention in March hinted on impeachment of the President.
Macedonian President #Ivanov´s pardon to politicians involved in #wiretapping affair is flagrant breach of EU-brokered deal of July 2015 1/2
Vice-President on the Liberal International Bureau, Eduardo Montealegre MP,has spoken out with fierce criticism against the Venezuelan regime of Nicolás Maduro, which is refusing to enact into law the ‘Law of National Amnesty and Reconciliation’ – a bill that was democratically approved by the Venezuelan National Assembly in an attempt to return the country to responsible government.
“In the legislative elections the Venezuelan people clearly expressed their willingness to resume the path of democracy and reconciliation,” LI Vice-President Montealegre MP explained. “That is why the entry into force of this Amnesty Bill, which has been passed by the National Assembly but is being hampered by President Maduro, is essential,” he added.
The Amnesty law demands the release of some 76 political prisoners and hundreds of people who were ‘persecuted and exiled’ in the last two decades due to their opposition to the leftist regime.
“Latin American liberals are in solidarity with our Venezuelan brothers, especially with political prisoners and their families and demand the immediate enactment of the Law on Amnesty and National Reconciliation, which will begin to correct the serious violations of human rights [of the failed model of Socialism of the 21st Century of the] Nicolas Maduro government,” VP Montealegre said.
In October 2015 the 60th LI Congress in Mexico City expressed concern that the “Maduro government is risking to draw the country into a serious conflict”, and demanded that the “[o]ppression of the opposition leaders must end, political prisoners must be released and political dialogue in the country [must be] re-established”. Congress also said that these “negative tendencies in Venezuela [do] not only threaten the lives of the Venezuelan citizens but [also] wider peace and security” in the region.
In February the Geneva Summit for Human Rights presented its Courage Award to Venezuelan political prisoners Antonio Ledezma and Leopoldo Lopez for their courage to fight the regime of President Maduro in Venezuela.
VP Löning: 'What is happening in Greece is not compatible with ECHR standards'Thursday 7 April 2016 18:04 Speaking to German Radio Deutschlandradio Kultur on Monday 4th April – the day that the first tranche of refugees in Greece were deported to Turkey – Liberal International Vice-President, Markus Löning, criticised the enforced repatriation as incompatible with European human rights standards.
Mr. Löning, who served his country as human rights commissioner (2010-14) and currently chairs LI’s human rights committee, cautioned that any repatriation of refugees from Greece which circumvented legal processes ran the risk of violating international conventions to which Greece is a signatory. "I think that what is happening now it is not compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights", said Löning, welcoming the initiative of human rights groups to take the EU-Turkey Pact before the European Court of Human Rights.
The Vice-President, who represents the FDP (LI full member) on the LI Bureau pointed towards two great challenges afflicting Greece and Europe. Firstly, the situation in Greece where, because of a lack of resources and personnel, refugees’ claims risk not be processed before they are ejected from the country. Secondly, the situation in Turkey where the security of refugees is uncertain.
Markus Löning underlined how the deal might run contrary to human rights standards and drew on the examples of the challenges faced by his own country. “The EU or Germany is free to adopt quotas and accommodate particular groups of people, for example women and children – as [the German state of] Baden-Württemberg has done. What would be contrary to human rights would be if people come to us in need of protection and are returned.”
“We are committed to the Geneva Convention, to grant people protection who need protection”, the German liberal clearly concluded.
As the end of the first term of the very successful and productive LI Human Rights Committee mandate quickly approaches, Liberal International is pleased to launch a call for new Committee members.
In line with the rules of procedure, which were adopted by LI’s 193rd Executive Committee in Hong Kong, Human Rights Committee terms expire every 18 months, with the right to re-election. As each nomination is to be (re-)confirmed by the first Executive Committee which meets after the Congress, it falls on the LI Executive Committee in Tbilisi, Georgia to appointment the new members.
Each member party, group or cooperating organisation of Liberal International is entitled to (re) nominate one candidate.
To be considered as a candidate a nomination letter and a short CV addressed for the attention of LI President Dr. Juli Minoves must be sent to the Head of LI’s Human Rights Programme, Ms. Tamara Dancheva at firstname.lastname@example.org not later than 26 April 2016.
All nominations will be presented to the LI Bureau which will then send its recommendation to the Executive Committee for final decision during its administrative session on 21st May 2016 in Tbilisi, Georgia.
The existing Committee has dedicated itself to raising awareness of LI’s human rights priorities: From an increased presence and participation in the work of the United Nations human rights bodies in Geneva and New York to a number of conferences and, ultimately, publication commemorating the ten year anniversary of the RtoP principle as well as co-hosting of the annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights, the Committee has marked a number of important milestones which have solidified and further expanded the liberal lead on the global human rights scene.
As the only political international with a Human Rights Committee, the quarterly LI Human Rights Bulletin publication has become the pre-eminent communication tool for the promotion and advancement of liberal initiatives in the field, while LI’s global campaign on the prevention and elimination of violence against women has been recognised by valued institutions including the National Democratic Institute and the Council of Europe.
Through its annual liberal human rights parliamentarians meeting, Liberal International has now become a leading voice on various human rights debates, both within and beyond the United Nations human rights framework, with UN Special Rapporteurs and Representatives actively engaged in its working mechanisms.
As the deadline is just 3 weeks away, LI member parties are invited to take advantage of this important opportunity and nominate a member who can help advance their party's human rights policies within the framework of LI Human Rights Committee.
“Republican ministers, during their time in the government, will continue to fulfil the government program approved by the Parliament under the leadership of the Prime Minister. In the same period, the situation in the Parliament will be the opposite – the parliamentary faction “Republicans” will operate based on the party’s political priorities, except for on the issues which have been agreed upon in the majority format beforehand,” reads a statement from the RPG leadership.
LI delegates at the 196th Executive Committee in May will be present at a crucial moment in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Welcoming the liberals from across the world, the RPG leader Khatuna Samnidze spoke with enthusiasm about the party decision saying “We made this decision! This is very new and not usual situation to our society, to our voters. Our campaign will be very clear, very precise, very inspirational.” David Usupashvili, former party leader and Speaker of the Georgian Parliament commented: “we should manage to be partners and competitors at the same time – that’s how it works; the European democracy is unimaginable otherwise.”
The Georgian Republicans were founded as dissident group in 1978 when Georgia was part of the Soviet Union, aiming towards the restoration of Georgia’s independence, the establishment of political pluralism, the formation of democratic institutions, ensuring the freedom of the press and the formation of a market economy. RPG participates in the coalition cabinet with the Minister of Defence, the Minster of Environment and Minister of Civil Equality and Reconciliation.
UPDATE: The Republican cabinet members will leave their posts in August, party leader Khatuna Samnidze said in an interview on Friday.
Democratic Allaince: "Jacob Zuma cannot continue to be president of our country"Monday 4 April 2016 12:04Ruling in a case initiated by LI full member Democratic Alliance, the Constitutional Court of South Africa found President Jacob Zuma in breach of the constitution when [ab]using public funds for non-security upgrades to his private home. Instead of accepting political responsibility for the scandal that, in his own words “frustrated” South Africa for years, President Zuma offered an apology. LI Deputy President and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille shortly commented: "He's not going anywhere."
The Democratic Alliance issued a statement saying Zuma's speech was “proof that he had no idea what the Constitution required of him or how South Africans viewed him”. The DA accused the governing African National Congress for “failing the nation” and announced it will initiate impeachment procedure against the President. DA Leader Mmusi Maimane said that “the judgment in the Constitutional Court was arguably the most important court ruling in South Africa’s two decade-old democracy.” In his view “it was important because it sent out the strongest possible statement that South Africa is still a nation governed by the Rule of Law.” He continued: “We are still a society in which everyone – including the most “untouchable” president – is seen as equal before the law. We are still a country with a fiercely independent judiciary that is prepared to make tough judgments for the sake of preserving our democracy.”
The leader of the DA asked for democratic action in the aftermath of the ruling against president Zuma, underling that at the local elections in a few months’ time “the choices [we] make at the ballot box have never been more important; it will be up to each of us to say: No, President Zuma, our country is not for sale.”
This message was energetically endorsed by Herman Mashaba, DA’s candidate for Mayor of Johannesburg, addressing a packed room in London in presence of LI Secretary General Emil Kirjas, shared his vision of making Johannesburg “Africa's leading business and cultural city.” Herman is running in the upcoming election, because he is passionate about ensuring that every South African receives life-changing opportunities.
- DA Candidate for Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, in London last week
In Memoriam: Hans-Dietrich GenscherFriday 1 April 2016 16:04“One of the greatest liberal politicians of the twentieth century. One of our key leaders. A liberal who has inspired many generations of liberal politicians”, were the words with which LI President, Dr. Juli Minoves, described former President of FDP (LI full member) and Germany’s longest-serving Foreign Minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who passed away last week at the age of 89. Mr. Genscher was one of the first recipients of Liberal International’s Prize for Freedom.
Learning of the sad news, the LI President paid tribute to the Honorary Chairman of the German liberal Free Democrats: “His remarkable achievements throughout his political tenure have shown the path for many persons who, thanks to him, have learned that a victory can be achieved through peaceful, democratic and diplomatic methods. His record is very long and impressive. For everything he had achieved, for his courage and visionary leadership, and especially for his tireless work towards promotion of freedom, Liberal International has inaugurated him as one of the first laureates of its Prize for Freedom in 1998.”
President of Honour of Liberal International and ALDE Party President Hans van Baalen MEP was deeply moved by the passing away Mr Genscher. Van Baalen said: "Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Willy Brandt (SPD) introduced the Ostpolitik which made co-operation with the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union possible and slowly made openings in the Iron Curtain ("Der Eiserne Vorhang durchlässiger machen"). Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Helmut Kohl (CDU) seized the moment to secure German re-unification in a peaceful and inclusive manner. German re-unification went hand in hand with European re-unification. With Hans-Dietrich Genscher as it leader, FDP contributed decisively to the end of the Cold War which deserves our eternal recognition".