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21-24 September 2022

Think Tank Central: Defending Freedom Conference

Tallinn, Estonia

The war in Ukraine has once against highlighted the need to defend freedom in Europe and around the world. The need to create a strong pro-freedom movement to defend our values has never been more obvious, as we face growing threats the rules-based world order. As we enter what some call the New Cold War, we must do everything we can to unite around the defence of Freedom.

Join us in Tallinn, Estonia from the 21-24 September as we bring together the largest collection of think tanks, foundations, and liberty loving academics for a conference on building a stronger Freedom Movement.

Think Tank Central: Defending Freedom Conference

Hilton Tallinn Park
F. R. Kreutzwaldi 23, 10147 Tallinn, Estonia


21st September

Leadership Institute

Think Tank Training Day


10:00 - 11:00

First Session

Think Tanks and Lawmakers, with Rick Tyler

11:00 - 11:15

Coffee Break

11:15 - 12:15 

Second Session

Strategic Communications and Messaging, with Ron Nehring

12:15 - 13:45


13:45 - 14:45

Third Session

Online Branding, with Stephen Rowe

14:45 - 15:00

Coffee Break

15:00 - 16:00

Fourth Session 

Fundraising, with Steve Sutton


Welcome Cocktail

22nd September


Welcome remarks

Tomasz Poręba, President of New Direction


Keynote Speech

Profesor Ryszard Legutko, Chairman of ECR Group



Understanding the Threat to Freedom 

Joseph Humire, Center for a Secure Free Society 


Panel 1

The Current State of the West

War, Political Division, Economic Turmoil – the West is facing a generational combination of crises. From the fall out of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, to the rising cost of living – the West has found itself stuck for answers. In order to start finding solutions we need to better understand the difficulties we face together.


Jospeh Humire, Center for a Secure Feee Society 

Dániel Horogszegi Szilágyi-Landeck, Head of Brussels Office at the Foundation for a Civic Hungary 

Dr. Farid Shafiyev, Chairman of the AIR Center

Iain Martin, CEO and Publisher of Reaction and columnit at The Times


Coffee Break


Panel 2

The Global Freedom Movement

Around the world, conservative movements are facing similar issues – increasing inflation, the rising cost of living, cultural challenges, and political instability. What can pro-freedom organisations learn from each other, and how should they best coordinate their efforts around the world to face these challenges.


Mike Gonzalez, Senior Fellow at Heritage Foundation

Hiroaki “Jay” Aeba,Chair of the Japanese Conservative Union 

István Kovács, Strategic Director at the Center for Fundamental Rights

Réka Szemerkényi, Senior Advisor, Transatlantic Strategy, IRI


Coalition Lunch meeting with Americans for Tax Reform


Breakout session

Room 1

The Middle East after the Abraham Accords

The Abraham Accords paved the way for lasting peace in the Middle East – with the countries of the Gulf and Israel signing historic agreements on economic cooperation and diplomatic relations.


Thomas Clowes-Pritchard, Director of Outreach at Pinsker Centre 

Thomas Kira, Director of Research at Henry Jackson Society

Mitchell Belfer, President of the Euro-Gulf Information Centre

Ron Nehring, Leadership Institute 

Breakout session

Room 2

The Future of the Free Media in Europe

The Free Press is a cornerstone of a free society – yet in many countries it is coming under pressure. What can we do to preserve media pluralism in Europe?


Jorge González-Gallarza,  Fundación Civismo & Co-host of the Uncommon Decency podcast

Boris Kalnoky, Head of the School, Media school, MCC

Mario Fantini, Editor-in-Chief of The European Conservative

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, Journalist - The Telegraph


Coffee Break


Panel 3

The Philosophy of Freedom

What does it mean to be free? What cultural underpinnings are required to live in a free society? Is freedom a universal concept? Are liberalism and conservatism competing or complementary ideas? These deep questions are key to finding the answers that the freedom movement needs to grow in Europe and beyond.


Radek Fogiel, Vice President of ECR Party

Barbara Kolm, Vice President of the Austrian Central Bank and Director of the Austrian Economics Center

Jakob Söderbaum, Master of Laws, Author and member of the Advisory Board of the Roger Scruton Legacy Foundation

Pieter Cleppe, Founder and Editor at Brussels Report


Panel 4

The Enemies of Freedom

Europe and the West face numerous threats – from Russian aggression in Central and Eastern Europe, to the proxy wars fought by Iran in the Middle East and Beyond, or from the expansion of Chinese influence around the world, to the organisation of authoritarian socialist states in Latin America. In order to defend freedom, we must understand our rivals, and how they work together.


Harry Nedelcu, Director of Policy and Business Development at Rasmussen Global

James Carafano, Vice President at Heritage Foundation

General Riho Terras, Member of the European Parliament

Otto Tabuns, Director of Baltic Security Foundation 


End of the first day 


Departure from the hotel 


Family photo and Coktail Reception


Margaret Thatcher Dinner

After Dinner Speech delivered by Oleksiy Goncherneko - Member of Parliament for Odessa 

23rd September


Panel 5

The war on Woke - Keeping European campuses free

The battle for academic freedom has intensified in recent years, with conservative and liberal thinkers being driven off university campuses. How do we defend the freedom to think freely?


Stephen Bartulica, Founder and President of the Center for the Renewal of Culture and associate professor of political philosophy at the Catholic University of Croatia in Zagreb

David Engels,  Instytut Zachodni in Poznań

Rodrigo Ballester, Head of the Centre for European Studies at Mathias Corvinus Collegium 

Ignasi Grau, Director General at OIEDEL


Coffee break 


Breakout session 

Room 1 

Freedom for Future Generations

Why should the next generation believe in freedom? How can a free society benefit them? And what is the best way to reach out to future generations? Our youth panel explores.


Haakon Teig, Editor of the Foniks magazine and Vice Chair of FAKS

Arvid Hallén, Program Director at OIKOS

Maria Cholewińska, Promyk Institute 

Magnus Gunnarsson, Centre for Social and Economic Research

Tamar Tarsaidze, Students For Liberty

Breakout session

Room 2

Economic Freedom and Choice

Economic freedom is the cornerstone of prosperity in Europe and the western world – and yet it is under threat from high inflation, rising prices, and state intervention. How can we defend economic freedom in Europe?​​​​


Elmars Kehris, Executive Director, Latvian Economists Association

​​​Lorenzo Montanari, Vice President International Affairs - Americans for Tax Reform

Adam Bartha, Director, Epicenter

Neven Vidakovic, Professor of Economics University of Zagreb

José Ramón Riera, Economist, Posmodernia 




The Big Freedom Debate

Libertarian? Classical Liberal? National Conservative? Christian Democrat? Are these all unique ideologies, or are they all part of the same broader movement? In the Big Freedom Debate we pitch self-identifying members of each of these factions against each other to find out where they agree and disagree.


Federico Ottavio Reho, Strategic Coordinator and Senior Research Officer

Anna Wellisz, VP for External Affairs of the Edmund Burke Foundation

John O'Sullivan, President of Danube Institute and former speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher

Hannes Gissurarson, Professor of political science at the University of Iceland 

Jorge González-Gallarza,  Fundación Civismo & Co-host of the Uncommon Decency podcast


Coffee Break 


Panel 6

Think Tanks in the Fight for Freedom

Think Tanks have an important role to play in the fight to defend freedom. But what can they do to support each other, and how can they better work together?


Juan Soto, International Director at Disenso 

Marko Milanovic Litre, Vice President of New Direction

Stefan Aćimović, European Programs Director at Students For Liberty

Rick Tyler, Leadership Institute 


Panel 7

What Next for Freedom in Europe?

Our panel looks back over the conference and discuss how the freedom movement should move on in the years to come. 


Réka Szemerkényi, Senior Advisor, Transatlantic Strategy, IRI

John O'Sullivan, President of Danube Institute and former speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher

Barbara Kolm, Vice President of the Austrian Central Bank and Director of the Austrian Economics Center

Robert Tyler, Senior Policy Advisor at New Direction



Closing Cocktail