The Slovenia Times

"Bled Strategic Forum is Already Part of Slovenia's Soft Power"



In 2006, the Bled Strategic Forum's first edition dealt with "Political Reform and Sustainable Development in the South Caucasus." How has the Forum evolved since its inception?

It's interesting, and thank you for reminding me about the first edition of the Forum in 2006, that the theme of sustainable development has been dealt with then and is also at the centre of the 14th edition of the Bled Strategic Forum, which will take place this year from the 2nd to the 3rd of September.

What changed? Certainly the scope and the ambition of the Forum. If we wanted to remain relevant in the international context, we needed to adapt to the new reality and to this globalised and digital world, which is changing so rapidly. International conferences like the Bled Strategic Forum must be observant and vigilant in order to embrace and understand events as they are happening.

Looking back at the previous editions, I would put this as our biggest achievement-we remained relevant and each year we brought new topics and questions, which are important, not only in the context of international relations, but also in understanding the future of society as a whole. We understood that you cannot discuss important questions in a void, but you need a platform where you can connect the dots of the ever-changing international environment.

One year after "bridging the divide," what is the overarching theme for this 14th edition?

This year we are talking about "(re)sources of (in)stability," which is not only an interesting play of words, but it also represents a theme, which is and will be even more in the future in the focus of international community and key global players.

In short, we will talk about us [the Forum] and our ability to comprehend the changes, which are influencing our sense of security and our way of life. In this light, we will put special emphasis on sustainable development and try to look at it from different angle-democracy, economy, security, human rights, digitalisation and artificial intelligence.

Does this year's edition innovate in any way, in comparison with previous editions?

We always try to innovate, we are especially proud that over the years Young Bled Strategic Forum and Business Forum have become key and integral part of the BSF, where we are trying to introduce new and exciting topics such as artificial intelligence and digitalisation.

Which high-level panellists can we expect?

If I need to choose three, which represent main pillars of the Forum (politics, business civil society), then I would mention Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia, Andrea Illy, CEO of Illy Caffè, and Professor Jeffrey Sachs from Columbia University.

BSF says it is "making commitments for the implementation of new strategies designed to confront the most pressing issues of today's Europe and the world." Do you set up some sort of follow-up between two editions?

This is, in a way, our mission statement. We need to be objective and say that we are not there yet. We are getting better, but our final goal is to establish a platform, which would be able to take the suggestions, ideas and commitments from Bled and implement them in the wider international arena. This platform would be able to organise events, round tables, and smaller events year-round and have the capacity to produce analyses, ideas, and other relevant papers in order to help Slovenia, its Government, and its citizens adapt to the changes in the international community.

Could one say that the BSF is becoming a part of Slovenia's soft power?

I would argue that Bled Strategic Forum is already part of Slovenia's soft power and it represents one of its most important tools. BSF offers an opportunity for Slovenia to hear and to be heard on the global stage and it brings together all the relevant stakeholders in order to promote and enhance the brand "Slovenia" or "I feel Slovenia," which is becoming more and more recognizable not only in Europe but worldwide. BSF is a small but important piece of this puzzle.


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