The Slovenia Times

Investing in the future



Some presenters could be credited for also their entertaining value while others openly admitted that this aspect would be missing and would concentrate plainly on the topic. But all of them were highly informative, even eye-opening, at least for a layman.

European decline?

Prof. Jean-Pierre Lehmann, professor at IMD Lausanne and founding director of Evian Group, stressed that Europe has lost its leading position and is no longer the centre of the universe; moreover, it is in decline in geographical, economic as well as demographic sense. In his opinion, it should become more externally open and internally unified. Žiga Turk, Secretary General of the Reflection Group on the Future of EU, was convinced that the crisis has begun as an institutional crisis, continued as climate, financial and economic crisis, with the possibility of a spillover to a political crisis. Europe should be more concerned about the key issues, such as demographic trends, the rising importance of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries, abundance in terms of information, infrastructure and money and climate change,

Prof. Vladimir Gligorov from the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies said that Europe has not reached a consensus on some key questions, while it is also rather unsuccessful at managing some types of diversity. He sees mid-term economic stagnation and declining share of public expenditure as two major risk factors. Prof. Aleš Debeljak, Director of Centre for Cultural and Religious Studies, stressed that the European civilization should be seen as a pool of ideas and technologies that we can share with the rest of the world. He set out Japan as an example of cross-fertilization of the modern Western cultural tradition and local traditional culture.

Crisis as an opportunity

According to the participants, the European leaders see the crisis more as a threat than as an opportunity, while Central and Eastern European business leaders are more optimistic and see more opportunities. At the same time, they devote more attention to strategic issues, not mainly to operational ones, as it is the case with their peers from the rest of Europe.

In the frame of a panel on financial challenges, Milan M. Cvikl, Secretary General of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, stressed that some basic values have been lost in the world and that we need to take steps to rebuild trust in financial institutions, while Marko Voljč, CEO of K&H Bank, Hungary, looked at the time after crisis, and foresaw a considerably lower growth rate, liquidity and much stronger risk awareness.

Way out

The final part of the conference was devoted to formulating recommendations for recovery from the crisis and beyond. Dr. Erhard Busek, President of the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe, Austria, stressed that Europe should define some general rules in terms of business environment and competition and have a stronger focus on education and R&D. On a national level, all European countries are important, however, we should define also responsibilities on the European level. Dr. Riccardo Illy, President of Illy Group, Italy, sees diversity of languages, cultures and religions as the major European advantage and a large potential for an increased level of creativity.

The participants of the conference agreed that we live in a totally new environment, marked by new players and new technologies. We need to remain optimistic and at the same time realistic, in order to avoid wishful thinking; we need to rebuild trust and follow the rules of ethics. The time of crisis is the time to invest in the future, and we need to be alert not to invest in yesterday's concepts, knowledge, technologies. The West is currently in decline; however, it still has a tremendous impact on the global future.


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