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Bridging the Gap
2nd Arab-European Liberal Dialogue Forum:
The Role of Organized Liberalism in Promoting Freedom and Democracy

Egypt, Cairo, May 16-18, 2014



Growing Gaps? In Cairo, Arab and European Liberals Discuss the Role of Political Parties

Liberal politicians, academicians and NGO activists convened in Cairo from May 16 -18, 2014 for the Second Arab-European Dialogue Forum. Sponsored by the European Liberal Forum (ELF) and co-organized by the Regional Office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF), the Forum for Greece and Democracy Magazine of Egypt's flagship Al Ahram Foundation, the three days conference discussed "The Role of Organized Liberalism in Promoting Freedom and Democracy". This year's Cairo event was a follow-up to a similar conference held 2013 at which liberals from both sides of the Mediterranean had discussed the basics of liberalism. Surprisingly for many, at that conference Arab and European liberals agreed on most ideological points. In the realm of ideas, the gap between the two sides proved rather minimal. The situation is far more diverse when it comes to the organizational or institutional aspects of liberal politics: this is the area of political parties and civil society organizations which play an important role in democracies, particularly liberal democracies.

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Bridging the Gap 2013
Arab-European Dialogue Forum on the Basics of Liberalism

Egypt, Cairo, May 16-18, 2013


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First Arab-European Liberal Forum Held in Cairo

Cairo was the host to the first Arab-European Liberal Forum on the Basics of Liberalism. Some one hundred delegates from both sides of the Mediterranean Sea gathered in the Egyptian capital from May 16 to 18, 2013 for discussions on the basics of liberalism and current political developments in this part of the world. The event was cosponsored by the Regional Office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF) and the European Liberal Forum (ELF) in Brussels.

Bridging the Gap – the organizers had chosen the title of the conference with hindsight as the objective of the political dialogue was to identify where liberals from Europe and the Arab world agree and where this is not the case. In special sessions, the participants – among them leaders of political parties, academics and civil society leaders - dealt with the basic liberal values in the course of history, the role of religion in their respective societies and liberal economic programs to tackle the challenges of a globalized world. "It may sound surprising, but I have seen hardly any differences between the programs of the liberal parties in Europe and the Arab world", said Alexandra Thein, member of the European Parliament and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).

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