Bled Strategic Forum opened

The Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) kicked off on Monday, with Dr Miro Cerar, Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, and Mr Karl Erjavec, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, addressing the opening ceremony.

Mr Cerar noted that the world had changed dramatically over the last few years, with the existing economic order and strategic alliances that had been known for decades suddenly coming into question, and multilateralism being severely challenged.

“All this is giving a boost to growing individualism and divisions in our society. If we really care for the prospects of our countries, for the well-being of our citizens, for the future of Europe and world, we need to bring change.”

Mr Cerar said that politicians sowing fear and divisions should be confronted by continuously stressing pure facts about the reality and promoting ethical and democratic values. “It is time to remind ourselves that peace and prosperity are not simply given.”

Surviving requires us acting together and with sincere intention to provide for peace and sustainable development, so we need to continue with our efforts to bridge the divide and promote freedom and security, he added.

Europe finally experiencing steady economic growth, a spike in investments and job creation should result in a raised optimism, Mr Cerar said, but added that “unfortunately, we are not there yet”.

Europe has to deal with a range of important issues, including how to best deal with Brexit. Decisions about the future of Europe that would stress yet again the true strength of the Union, he added.

“I truly hope that our 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, bridging the divides of our time.”

Mr Erjavec announced that the Bled Strategic Forum would take a closer look at some of the most pressing issues that divide the world, adding that trust, dialogue and compromise were the only way to bring people together.

He took a look back at its history, noting that in the last seven years, the forum had expanded even beyond every expectations, with the number of participants almost tripling since 2012.

The minister noted that the event discussed many topics dedicated to the European Union, economic and financial crisis, integration, migrations, solidarity, people’s trust in institutions and Brexit.

The Western Balkans and its role and future in the EU have also been always high on the agenda, and the forum has also looked beyond the European borders, discussing the Mediterranean and Middle East, Mr Erjavec added.

“Every year we took some time to introduce new topics, including digital and technology revolution, demographic change, tourism, sport, art and media.”

Mr Peter Grk, Secretary-General of the Bled Strategic Forum, who chaired the opening ceremony, said that this year, the BSF would offer discussions, arguments, counter-arguments, and maybe some answers to the most pressing rifts in society.

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