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Interview with the Goethe Director Johannes Ebert

Vasiliki Grammatikogianni Editor in chief

How can we turn the city into a free zone for everybody? Do you think that segregation is responsible for the increase of fascism in European big cities? Where freedom begins and where it ends? Do we really live in a Europe as we want it to be? These were some of the questions that artists from European cities tried to answer in the framework of FREIRAUM project. A project made up from Goeth institutes from 42 European cities. I met the Director of Goethe Institute,  Johannes Ebert in Berlin and I interviewed him about the project. Here is what he said.

Vasiliki: According to feedback you had so far are you optimist that we can redesign cities of 21st century and reassess the values of middle class in order to strengthen freedom and a broader sense of democracy?

Johannes Ebert: I think this is a very big political challenge for European cities. To include all the citizens and all feel secure and social strong. Lending money and getting apartments is the big question for the cities today. However is not a materialistic question not even a social question,but a question of European spirit. How can we understand the others? How to strengthen the feeling of belonging, the feeling that we are all Europeans? I think that this is one of the big challenges and I think we have to go on it. Not only political organizations but also cultural institutes have to work on this, in order everyone to feel part of Europe. I’m optimist but it needs a lot of work to be done.

Vasiliki: Having the experience of Freiraum project, do you think that the United States of Europe is feasible?

Johannes Ebert : We are far away from that. I think that right now we have to work together on European level much more and on very different levels. Freiraum brought together very different organizations in order to work on the question of the future. European artists came together and discussed certain values of European Union like freedom and democracy but I think that we have to discuss in many different levels. For example people who work in normal jobs. They could spend a month in another European country. For example a person who work in a bakery. People from different level of European society should make exchange in order to know each other.

Vasiliki: Did you find creative answers about freedom finally?

Johannes Ebert : Freedom is a process and I think this was the idea behind the Freiraum project. What the freedom is for us? What the freedom means for the future? I think that we never find the final solution but the process of working together is fundamental. As far as I can see for the discussions it was a good process. So I think from this point of view Freiraum project was successful. However we have to continue. Not only Goethe institute but other institutes as well should doing projects on European corporations in different levels and on the question how do we want Europe to be in the future. Freedom and democracy play a very important role in this discussion.

Vasiliki: Thank you Mr. Ebert.