April 17, 2019 Print

Over 800 of the world’s most passionate libertarian minds convened in Belgrade, Serbia for the 8th annual LibertyCon Europe. The conference, which was held April 5-7, has become an annual tradition in Europe and brings together academics, students, and activists who are passionate about the ideas of liberty. The theme for this year’s conference was “A Freer Future,” highlighting the positive global trend towards liberty as well as the work that still needs to be done. Atlas Network’s own Vale Sloane served as master of ceremonies for the conference.

Atlas Network Executive Vice President for International Programs and George M. Yeager Chair for Advancing Liberty, Tom Palmer, speaks during a session moderated by Vale Sloane.

Classical liberal heroes, such as Atlas Network’s Tom Palmer, FEE’s Lawrence Reed, and The Black Swan author Nassim Nicholas Taleb, invigorated the young and passionate crowd. “I was so impressed by the determination of so many European students and recent graduates to realize the promise of liberty—to work for limited government, freedom of trade, toleration, and the rule of law,” explained Palmer, the George M. Yeager Chair for Advancing Liberty and Executive Vice President for International Programs.

Matt and Terry Kibbe of Free the People set the mood for the conference with their Love, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness talk. Highlighting government bureaucratic failure through a personal Stage 4 cancer diagnosis, the co-founders of this liberty-focused community discussed their introduction into advocacy and how their advocacy of entrepreneurship, choice, and peaceful cooperation is leading to a freer future.

An attendee looks on during a session at LibertyCon.

The energized attendees of LibertyCon Europe left the conference with a stronger understanding of the benefits and necessity of liberty, as well as new methods and strategies to help them flourish as they work to change the world. Following the conference, Palmer was excited about what he perceives as a newfound optimism in the liberty movement. “So many young people who are so focused on liberty and limited government, free enterprise, and respect for rights, a future of prosperity, and peace—they make me hopeful about the future.”

Aleksander Kokotovic, SFL’s European programs director, agreed. “Having a young and passionate audience makes us optimistic,” he explained. “We’re seeing a dynamic shift globally in the way in which our youth are able to present their case for a freer future.”

Before Europe LibertyCon officially kicked off, Atlas Network hosted a Think Tank Essentials workshop, with two days of interactive sessions designed to cover the fundamental aspects of operating a successful think tank. Many of the 26 participants from 16 countries were SFL leaders. Diego Zuniga Aguilera, an SFL member from Brussels, Belgium, said, “Before attending this training I was somehow starting to become skeptical about my capabilities of adding value to the liberty movement. However, it helped me not only to regain hope, but also to learn what I can do better.”

The attendees of Atlas Network's Think Tank Essentials training in Belgrade represent 16 countries.

"Students For Liberty alumni are starting to take over decision-making roles in business, academia, politics and media and thousands more are being trained each year,” continued Kokotovic. “LibertyCon is one of the places where we are proud to showcase their work and generate ideas, partnerships, and collaborations that will truly create a freer future for everyone.”