The Slovenia Times

Bled Forum to Debate Partnerships as a Response to World in Flux


Never lacking for broad deliberations, Slovenia's prime foreign policy event is expected to touch on some of the most burning global issues, including the situation in the Mediterranean, as it convenes on Monday and Tuesday.

The scramble to get a grip on the growing migration crisis and find an effective response to the savagery of the so-called Islamic State will be among the main topics at the event, organised by the Slovenian Foreign ministry and the Centre for European Perspective.

The fragile relations in the Western Balkans will also feature at the event, which is expected to draw some 700 participants from over 60 countries.

Headlining the list of confirmed participants are the presidents of Slovenia and Croatia, Borut Pahor and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Serbian and Luxembourg prime ministers, Aleksandar Vučić and Xavier Bettel, and over half a dozen foreign ministers from Europe.

President of the European Council Donald Tusk will be on hand, as will Director General of the International Organization for Migration William Lacy Swing.

Another 18 ministers and two European commissioners, Violeta Bulc for transport and Tibor Navracsics for education, new President of the International Criminal Court Alejandra Fernandez de Gurmendi and OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier are expected to be in Bled.

In the year when the international community is observing the 70th anniversary of the UN and the signing of the Helsinki Final Act, which paved the way to the OSCE, 40 years ago, as well as the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, the organisers hope to highlight the benefits of partnership.

In this vein the main panel on Monday, which will feature the participating heads of state and government, will run under the title "The New Global Order: Confrontation or Partnership".

It will be one of nearly a dozen panels scheduled over the two days spanning issues related to the shifting global order, including international justice and development, diplomacy, and population ageing.

As has become tradition, separate proceedings will be held to debate key economic issues. The Business BSF will focus on financial convergence, development of transport, trans-Atlantic trade and the potential of tourism across four panels.

A special section dedicated to young leaders under the age of 38 is scheduled to be held already at the weekend and will be an introduction into the debates scheduled as part of the main section of the forum.

Attended by policy-makers, analysts, economists, business officials and members of the academic world, some of the proceedings at the BSF will for the first time be limited to specific audiences in order to cater for an ever larger turnout.

Additionally the organisers have sought to promote greater interactivity of debates by enabling moderators to utilise social networks to contribute to the debate with questions and observations.

Labelled an opportunity for Slovenia to showcase its "success, openness, innovation and confidence" by its Secretary General Alain Brian Bergant, the BSF will see half a dozen Slovenian ministers attend.

On hand to open the event on Monday afternoon will be Prime Minister Miro Cerar and Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec.

With guests from around the world in attendance, Slovenian officials plan to use the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings.

Erjavec has scheduled as many as 15 over the two days.

In the run-up to the forum, the Slovenian foreign minister reiterated that the BSF was a high-value event for Slovenia. He said his meetings would also be a chance to promote Slovenia's views on border arbitration with Croatia.

Since its maiden appearance in 2006, the BSF has solidified its place as one of the most important forums in the region, Erjavec said.


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