May 19, 2008
50 Years for Liberty: FNF Celebrates
Horst Köhler, president of the Federal Republic of
Germany, greets Lord Ralf Dahrendorf, former FNF chairman.
The President of the Federal Republic of Germany, the leader of
the German Free Democratic Party
, prominent liberal leaders and descendants of Theodor
Heuss and Friedrich Naumann gathered in Bonn, Germany on 19 May
2008 to celebrate the golden jubilee of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation
for Liberty (FNF).
Wolfgang Gerhardt, FNF chairman, led the 1,500 guests in celebrating
50 years of the Foundation’s work. He welcomed the crowd
by reiterating FNF’s mission and stressed that its name
change underlines the primacy of its work in individual freedom.
Dr. Horst Köhler, president of the Federal Republic of Germany,
extended the country’s respects and praised FNF’s contribution
to the development of democracy locally and internationally. He
encouraged the Foundation to continue its mission as liberalism
faces many challenges today.
One of those challenges is how to balance individual
freedom with the struggle for justice and equality. Lord
Ralf Dahrendorf, former chairman of the Foundation and member
of the British House of Lords, said that a liberal concept
of justice must acknowledge the need for some redistribution.
It must also offer equality of access, most crucially
by offering educational opportunities that mitigate inequalities
at birth. This is in order to safeguard a minimum standard
of decency for every person.
Otto Lambsdorff with the international panel
The leader of Germany’s Free Democratic Party, Dr. Guido Westerwelle,
acknowledged the need for liberals to tackle issues of justice.
However, he cautioned against a simplistic concept
that sees massive redistributive policies
only legitimate form of social justice. He said that this would
turn the state into a nanny-in-chief and transform citizens
into permanent dependents.
Chairman emeritus, Count Otto Lambsdorff, ended the celebration
with a panel discussion with several eminent liberals from around
the world. They discussed the challenges the Foundation faces
globally and what the next steps are for international cooperation.
Siim Kallas, member of the European Commission from Estonia; Tony
Leon, long time leader of the South African Democratic Alliance
and Otto Guevara Guth, a liberal leader from Costa Rica, provided
an impressive overview of the international dimensions of the
work of the FNF.
The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty was founded in
May 1958 by a group of liberals led by the first post-war president
of Germany, Theodor Heuss. He named the organization after his
mentor Friedrich Naumann.