News Overview 2015

Richard von Weizsäcker Forum: Responsibility and Leadership

Photo: Manuel Frauendorf
From 10 to 11 November, the Robert Bosch Stiftung and Robert Bosch Academy hosted esteemed guests from around the world at the Richard von Weizsäcker Forum in Berlin. The event focused on the issue "Responsibility and Leadership."

Remembering an outstanding politician – and a great human being

Held in the Berlin office of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Richard von Weizsäcker Forum began on Tuesday evening with over 200 invited guests, including current and former Fellows of the Robert Bosch Academy. Representing politics, industry and academia, many of the attendees had a close personal connection to the former Federal President, such as the historian Fritz Stern, who paid tribute to his good friend Richard von Weizsäcker in a video message. In his view, Weizsäcker’s legacy continues to shape society today. Kurt W. Liedtke, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, expressed his gratitude to the former President for his service as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, which he occupied for over two decades. Until his death in January 2015, he personally attended many important events of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, and followed its developments and activities, provided counsel and was a source of inspiration. Christof Bosch, grandson of the company’s founder and spokesperson of the Bosch family, recalled how he stood out in person for his humanity.

The panel discussion that followed focused on the implications for political leadership in a world characterised by increasing complexity. Panellists included Giuliano Amato, the former Prime Minister of Italy, Carl Bildt, the former Prime Minister of Sweden and Gesine Schwan, President of the Humboldt-Viadrina Governance Platform, among others. Musical accompaniment was provided by the Orchestra Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic. They performed pieces by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Joseph Haydn, which Weizsäcker had especially enjoyed during his lifetime.

Leadership entails responsibility

The topic of the second day of the Forum concerned the biggest challenges of the present day. In the past few years, hotspots have developed around the world, such as in Syria, the Ukraine and Eritrea. What are the consequences of these crises for our existing system of values and the current balance of power? Who should intervene in these conflicts? Ghassan Salamé, Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs, Sciences-Po Paris, kicked off the day’s first panel with brief opening remarks, which served as the starting point for a lively discussion with Anne Applebaum, columnist for the Washington Post and Director of The Transitions Forum, Franziska Brantner, Member of the German Bundestag, Philip Gordon, the former Special Assistant to the President of the United States and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region and Vesna Teršelič, Director of the organization "Documenta - Center for Dealing with the past" in Zagreb.

Following the lunch break, Forum participants resumed discussion with a look at Europe’s future. From the crisis in Greece to the refugee issue - the past few months have put Europe to the test. How can European solidarity and social cohesion be preserved in light of these challenges? Jörg Asmussen, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, introduced the panel titled "Europe, Compassion and Democracy." Various points-of-view were provided by the following panellists: Kemal Derviş, Vice-President of the Brookings Institutition, Anna Diamantopoulou, President  of To Diktio and former European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Ivan Krastev, Chairman  of the Center for Liberal Strategies and Mario Monti, the former Prime Minister of Italy.

The final discussion of the Richard von Weizsäcker Forum examined Germany’s role and responsibility in these turbulent times. François Heisbourg, Chairman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, opened the discussion with Daniel Hamilton, Director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations, Huang Jing, Director of the Center Asia and Globalisation, Janusz Reiter, Chairman of the Centre for International Relations and Norbert Röttgen, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag.

"The provocative, dynamic discussions have shown different approaches to facing current challenges," Sandra Breka, head of the Berlin Representative Office and the Robert Bosch Academy, summed up the event. "We are convinced that multilateral debates are more important now than ever before. That is why the Robert Bosch Academy strives to foster this kind of public dialogue."

Picture Gallery



Robert Bosch Academy (Hg.)  Die Welt im 21. Jahrhundert  Read and recommend