The 16th edition of the Bled Strategic Forum has come to a close on Thursday. The event, which hosted a record number of participants over two days, encouraged an open dialogue on the future of Europe and its main challenges.
More than 170 panellists and speakers from all over the world participated in this year’s Bled Strategic Forum, which is the highest number ever. The event was attended by EU high representatives, ten heads of government, several foreign ministers, two heads of state, five former heads of state, high representatives of European and international institutions, MEPs and representatives of think tanks, civil society, the economy, and the research and academic sphere. The event was covered by more than 170 journalists from around the world. The programme comprised of 40 hours of events was carried out.
This year’s Forum focused on the future of Europe and the call to increase its resilience. The topics of discussion touched on the priorities of the second Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which takes place under the "Together. Resilient. Europe” slogan.
On the first day, European leaders and EU high representatives focused on the main challenges of Europe’s future, post-epidemic recovery, the green and digital transformations and the future of European integration. As Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša pointed out during the discussion, the EU enlargement to the Western Balkans is of vital importance to the future of Europe, adding that "when the European Union was established, the founding fathers did not divide it on East and West lines. They said that Europe must be whole and free and EU enlargement is a tool to achieve this goal.”
The second day of the Forum was dedicated to the economic recovery and tourism, laying the foundations for a more resilient EU, strengthening cyber resilience and digitalisation. Key topics of the second day included talks on mounting a stronger and more effective response climate change, the importance of transatlantic cooperation, cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, the challenges of the Eastern Partnership countries and the stability of the Mediterranean. As Slovenian Foreign Minister Anže Logar pointed out during the discussion on joint management of the Adriatic Sea, “an exclusive economic zone is the best solution for the conservation of the Adriatic Sea”. He also underlined importance of mutual cooperation and of finding ways to preserve the area and develop its economy.
The recipient of this year’s “BSF Distinguished Partner Award 2021” is Pedro Opeka, a priest and missionary who has devoted more than 30 years of his life to humanitarian work and the fight against poverty in Madagascar. The award was presented by Foreign Minister Logar, who said that “Father Opeka has been creating a better society, bringing hope to the poor and improving their lives.”
As an introduction to the Forum, the tenth Young Bled Strategic Forum was held at the beginning of the week in Bled, bringing together more than 30 young people from 12 different countries who discussed the future of Europe, thus enabling active social participation for the younger generations.
The Bled Strategic Forum is the leading international conference in Central and South-Eastern Europe and a unique, open and inclusive platform on Europe’s key challenges in the 21st century. Over 16 years, it has hosted more than 10,000 participants from 100 countries, more than 30 heads of state and government, more than 300 ministers and more than 100 representatives of international organisations, making the Forum one of the most important international socio-political events.