Ulrich Niemann Accompanies the Federal President on a Middle East Trip
German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has recently completed his state visits to Jordan and Lebanon. He was, among others, accompanied by a delegation of the German political foundations.
“The German interest in the stability of Jordan and Lebanon is closely tied with a strong civil society. The efforts of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom are clearly visible in this regard”, said Ulrich Niemann, Head of the International Department of the Foundation, in the context of an event in Beirut.
The focus points of the German President’s trip were the various political perspectives in the area as well as the German continuous support of this important region, which must not be reduced to the refugee crisis and the ongoing conflict in the neighboring country Syria. Looking at the high number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, he declared: “We are aware of the immense burden that is put on these countries”. The coexistence of the different religions and ethnicities in Lebanon are “setting an example for the entire region”, despite being constantly faced with new challenges. The Federal Presidnet wanted to set an example with his journey to Jordan and Lebanon for the holistic perception and the importance of these countries for institutions like FNF. Therefore, visits to educational institutions, cultural sites and start-up companies were also a big part of his program in the region. There was consensus among the representatives of the political foundations that, in order to meet the challenges, an essential contribution can be made by identifying and fostering the human potential of the citizens. According to Steinmeier, “the foundations play a special role for the political dimension of our relations”.
The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom engages in liberal political work in the fields of education, consulting and international dialog and operates in the region from offices in both Jordan and Lebanon. Furthermore, the Foundation for Freedom works with and for Syrian refugees. It supports the countries in their efforts to modernize institutions, administration, economy and education. The Middle East and North Africa plays a particularly important role in the history of the Foundation for Freedom: Our international activities started in 1963 in Tunisia – with a media project. The training of journalists and the support for the freedom of the press and of expression remain a central pillar of the foundation’s activities in the region to this day.
Photo: Steinmeier, Dirk Kunze and Ulrich Niemann at the reception of the President at the historical Villa Sursock in Beirut on 30th of January 2018