The Slovenia Times

13th Bled Strategic Forum: Bridging the Divide



The EU: Need for a Vision within a Reasonable Time Period

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, Karl Erjavec, hosted the annual Bled Strategic Forum where he took the opportunity to thank all those who have helped to create a name for the forum and have increasingly enriched the content throughout the years. At the opening of this year's forum, Dr Miro Cerar, Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, stressed that "peace and prosperity are not simply given" and that the "focus will be on how to make the European Union better, stronger and more united. Only in this way we, as Europe, can be a true player in the relentless global arena." H.E. Mr Borut Pahor, President of the Republic of Slovenia noted that current developments in the EU are "at a standstill. We see an increasing return to national politics. A standstill does not mean that everyone is waiting, it is obvious that those who are not in favour of a future strengthening of the EU are moving on. And those of us who are in favour of its strengthening are standing still. Those of us who believe in its future do not seem to have a vision for it." The President emphasised the importance of creating a vision for the EU in a reasonable time period.



(Source: Bled Strategic Forum/Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA)


In discussing the unpredictable challenges currently facing the EU, Mr Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator - Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 TEU, offered valuable insight into recent developments from the negotiating table. "I regret profoundly this vote. But we must respect it because it's a democratic decision. Being realistic, the goal would be to reach a decision within the next six to eight weeks." He reiterated that a favourable outcome for both the EU and the UK is possible. "80% - 85% of the content of the Treaty has already been agreed on by both the EU and the UK." The key focus remains on the content where they have not yet been able to agree: the agricultural sector and what the future of governance for such a treaty would look like. Mr Barnier reminded us that "if we want to be autonomous and sovereign as Europeans, we must be together, otherwise we are likely to fall under the influence of China or the United States." Dr Christian Ketels, Chief Economist, Boston Consulting Group, remarked that "we see a lot of political uncertainty. Companies, not only in Europe, are not making investments because they are not sure what the context will look like. More questions are being asked than ever before. We are generating growth, but it is not reaching our general society."


(Source: Bled Strategic Forum/Photo: Stanko Gruden/STA)


20 Years Later: The Importance of the ICC

In commemorating the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the discussion 'International Criminal Court: 20 Years after Rome - Setting a Path for the Future', started just a few short hours after John R Bolton, National Security Advisor, US Department of State stated that the "ICC is dead to us." Honourable Justice Richard Goldstone, former Chief Prosecutor for the ICTY and ICTR and Chair of the Advisory Board of the Coalition for the ICC, responded by noting that the US had assisted the ICC in a number of instances. Mr O'gon Kwon, President of the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC, highlighted that the ICC is a judicial and not political institution acting strictly within the Rome Statute." Mrs Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC) "Without an international criminal justice system and the ICC as its nucleus, humanity would regress into a more turbulent world where chaos, volatility and violence are the norm," stressing that the international criminal justice project will inevitably continue to thrive because of the powerful idea that it represents within the broader market of ideas.


(Source: Bled Strategic Forum/Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA)


What is the Utility of the Fifth Domain?

The 13th Bled Strategic Forum placed increasing emphasis on the role of societies in a largely digitalised world and the challenges that come with it. In a piece written for the Bled Strategic Times, Matthew Jacobs, Digital Coordinator, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, US Department of State asked: "People might have the world at their fingertips, but can they adeptly navigate it?" The question ultimately highlights not only the changing diplomatic environment, but the urgent need for greater cyber-resilience as outlined by Sir Julian King, European Commissioner for the Security Union.

The urgency demonstrated for developing greater cyber-resilience was stressed in The Role of South East European National Security Authorities in Ensuring Cyber Security panel. Major General Dobran Božič, Director of the Office of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for the Protection of Classified Information, demonstrated why there is a pressing need for comprehensive solutions in the fifth domain. He noted that because of its ability to "interfere with and affect all areas of society, cybernetics is one of the most dangerous tools, and even a weapon for fulfilling national security interests and achieving national goals, both in peace and war." Mr Kai Hermsen, Global Coordinator for the Charter of Trust at Siemens AG, Germany, argued that the ecosystem "transcends countries, it is a matter of society." Mr Uzi Moscovici, Major General (retired), Vice-President of Missile Division at Israel Aerospace Industries, Israel highlighted that "one of the common denominators in mentioning the difficulties in the ecosystem is the scarcity of skilled manpower." Although there are a number of nations that are increasingly being pressed to confront the challenge, others, such as Israel, are at an absolute advantage. Europe, for instance, is facing a growing cybersecurity skills gap with a strong need to set higher standards and coordination in response to large scale incidents.

AI and Reshaping the International Order

In looking ahead, Reva Goujon, Vice President of Global Analysis, Stratfor, paints the following century as being defined by a global race for AI supremacy. Although AI development will undeniably bring new opportunities for social construction on a global scale, it will be another area which will "spawn a new ideological battlefield between the United States and China, pitting the West's notion of liberal democracy against China's emerging brand of digital authoritarianism."


(Source: Bled Strategic Forum/Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA)


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