The Slovenia Times

Bled Strategic Forum to see solidarity at work

Bled Strategic ForumPolitics
Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) secretary general Peter Grk talking to the STA. Photo: BoĊĦtjan Podlogar/STA
The Bled Strategic Forum (BSF), Slovenia's foremost foreign policy event, will focus on solidarity in facing global challenges this year. After devastating floods hit parts of the country in early August, the organisers have decided to incorporate a charitable campaign.

Throughout the event, taking place on 28 and 29 August, the participants will have the chance to donate for the people who have been the most affected by the floods, BSF secretary general Peter Grk told the Slovenian Press Agency in an interview.

The title Solidarity for Global Security had been chosen before the floods, said Grk, adding that climate change is only one of the threats that will be discussed at the forum.

"The whole concept is geared toward addressing challenges that represent different threats for the broader global community: from climate change to the Russian aggression against Ukraine, the energy and food crises," Grk said.

Highlighting solidarity, the title was also chosen with Slovenia's upcoming non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council in mind. The campaign that preceded the vote in June has opened Slovenia's foreign policy more broadly to the world, which is reflected in this year's BSF, drawing representatives from all five continents.

"In preparations for the non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council, talks, both bilateral and multilateral, led us to realise that all global challenges have one thing in common: they need to be resolved through cooperation, we need to listen to one another, and certain core values need to be upheld, including human rights, democracy, solidarity and transparency."

Grk said that the global multilateral system had become rather unresponsive to modern challenges and was no longer a good fit for the modern world. "The fact that the multilateral system is failing is one of the biggest problems we face at the moment," said Grk, adding that this was something Slovenia would be addressing in its capacity as non-permanent member of the Security Council.

The BSF will feature numerous panel debates with guests from all over the world, among them EU Council President Charles Michel, the presidents of Greece and Moldova, prime ministers of Western Balkan countries, as well as 14 foreign ministers from across the globe.

"We aspired to bringing as many global community representatives to this year's forum as possible, so as to make the debates as constructive and as broad as possible."

This will be the 18th iteration of the BSF and Grk believes that the event has become one of the leading strategic platforms of its kind in Europe. This means that the organisers have no trouble attracting guests, or forging partnerships with numerous think-tanks and civil society organisations from all over the world.

However, a large number of participants poses a significant logistical and infrastructural challenge. Therefore, the BSF will be transformed in the coming years into a brand and a platform featuring events throughout the year and drafting analytical papers about modern-day challenges.

"In fact, one of the main challenges is how to implement and upgrade ideas from the many good discussions taking place at the forum," said Grk.

A successful instance of this was last year's water safety discussion, which resulted in a declaration that was later also discussed in the UN. "This is the soft power of the BSF and of Slovenia's foreign policy, of which we would like to make better use in the future."

Moreover, the organisers are striving to make the event as sustainable and environment-friendly as possible. On the one hand, sustainable development and climate change take a prominent place in the BSF's agenda, and on the other, they are trying to take tangible steps in terms of food and transport.

In this vein, guests will be able to travel from Ljubljana to Bled by train this year, as the forum will be taking place in cooperation with the Slovenian Railways.

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