November 1, 2016 Print

Only 21 years ago, much of Bosnia and Herzegovina was torn apart by war. The healing process that began in November 1995 has been a slow, ongoing one, even to this day. This makes the success of the recently completed OPENFest all the more inspiring. OPENFest gathered around 2,000 people from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and more for a series of 15 events over the course of three days, spread across eight different venues in the historic city of Sarajevo.

“The proponents of classical liberalism have always considered that their ideas are OPEN to all, no matter what color, religion, nationality or other differences exist among people,” said Admir Čavalić, founder and organizer of the event. “This is why I’m so excited with the success of the first-ever OPENFest, because during it you could feel the enthusiasm and openness for new ideas, and a general open dialogue about breaking the status quo in the region. I can’t thank the sponsors, speakers, special guests, local venues, and participants enough. Thank you! And I hope to see you again, at next year’s OPENFest.”

The festivities included student events, cultural celebrations, art exhibitions, and musical performances, including a special performance by Edo Maajka, one of the region’s most popular rappers and music producers. Also featured were inspirational speakers from around the world, such as Czech politician and activist Vit Jedlička, Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol, and Atlas Network’s Dr. Tom G. Palmer. The event received extensive media coverage from around the Balkans, including an article featured on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most visited news sites, Klix.ba.

“The art of freedom was activated by OPENFest. We've got great books and the ideas, but culture doesn't work on only treatises and policy studies,” said Dr. Tom G Palmer. “In the best tradition of classical liberalism, OPENFest brought together sculptors and poets and scholars and painters and musicians and activists to celebrate and advance liberty. It raised my spirits and made me glad I got to take part.”

Admir Čavalić, founder and director of the think tank Multi, based in Bosnia and Herzegovina, had an idea to create the one of the largest pro-liberty cultural events in the Balkans. He pitched his proposal during Atlas Network’s 2015 Think Tank Shark Tank Competition on Nov. 11 in New York City. Čavalić won that competition’s $25,000 grand prize and used the funds to create OPENFest.

One of the most emotional events of the fest was a screening of the German movie Not Finished (Nije završeno in Bosnian), about the horrors of communism in East Germany, which brought the audience to tears. Following the film, the event featured an emotional discussion with Dr. Karsten Dummel, director of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and former East German political prisoner. 

Atlas Network is proud to have been a sponsor of this first-of-its-kind event. 

View photos from the event in the gallery to the right. Click here to view the full Facebook photo album.