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Belgrade Security Forum Day 2

Sonja Licht gave the welcoming speech at the beginning of the second day at BSF, in the presence of the Serbian Prime-minister Aleksandar Vucic and the Albanian Prime-minister Edi Rama. 

Saying this meeting in Belgrade of the two officials was unimaginable five years ago, she called for courage and vision from the political leaders in the Western Balkan region. “We need to rely on each other, this is our only strength.”, said Licht.

The Serbian and the Albanian Prime-ministers sat for a discussion about the relations between their countries, moderated by Misha Glenny, Visiting Professor, Harriman Institute and Columbia University.

Aleksandar Vucic talked about the main strategic goal of his country, the EU membership, and also noted that Serbia’s good relations with Russia should not be a surprise to anyone. He also talked about regional developments and challenges, and the importance of Germany’s leadership in the EU.

The Albanian Prime-minister, Edi Rama, also expressed his country’s commitment to following the EU path as a way to become more modern. He said: ’the EU process is not a trip to go somewhere, it is a modernisation path that is possible for our societies to fill the gap with the future’. He agreed with Aleksandar Vucic that the German Chancellor Angela Merkel showed leadership during crucial moments and crises that the EU was facing.

The two Prime-ministers expressed different visions over Kosovo’s relations with Serbia, particularly about how to treat persons suspected of committing war crimes   and about how the issue of the Trepca mine should be resolved

The Grand Opening on Day 2 was followed by a Special Event discussing the improvements made in relations between Serbia and NATO since 2006. The  list of speakers included Ivica Dačić‚ First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia‚ Zoran Đorđević‚ Minister of Defence, Government of Republic of Serbia and James Appathurai‚ Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, NATO.

The discussion was moderated by Ivan Vejvoda‚ Senior Vice-President for Programs, German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Ivica Dačić spoke about the good relations his country has with NATO, despite the fact that it is not foreseeable that Serbia will become a member of the Alliance in the near future. He said that Serbia has found supporters in NATO at the highest levels. Zoran Đorđević called for more future cooperation is indeed desired.

James Appathurai confirmed that Serbia has friends throughout the organization and assured that NATO’s objective in regards to Serbia is a strong partnership, practical cooperation and political dialogue.

A Plenary Panel on the issue of migration followed, chaired by Bojan Brkić‚ Deputy News Editor at the Radio Television of Serbia, with distinguished speakers such as Irena Vojačkova-Sollorano‚ Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programm (UNDP), Serbia‚ Vladimir Petronijević‚ Executive Director, Group 484‚ Rosa Balfour‚ Senior Fellow, Europe Programme, The German Marshall Fund of the United States‚ Elizabeth Collett‚ Director of Migration Policy, Transatlantic Council on Migration, Migration Policy Institute‚ Amb. István Gyarmati‚ President, International Centre for Democratic Transition and Ahmet Evin‚ Professor Emeritus, Sabanci University, Istanbul.

The discussion revolved around the EU management of migration, the credibility of the EU in the eyes of its own citizens and the repercussion of the crisis of migration for the EU’s foreign policy. The EU-Turkey deal on migration was evaluated, but also Serbia’s migration policy and record in dealing with the refugees.

Another Plenary Panel addressed the  European Security Strategy, featuring prominent speakers from the field of security.

Antonio Missiroli, Director of the EU ISS, who was involved in the process, emphasized the difficulty of drafting the new strategy. He believes that in terms of a new common strategic vision, the strategy is a point of departure rather than point of arrival.

François Heisbourg made a few observations on the wording of the document, noting that the executive summary is missing crucial words such as ‘China’, ‘Russia’, ‘US’ while the word “peace” is used 41 times, “war” 2 times, “military” 3 times, “power” 3 times, “force” never. He talked about why the EU is not a unified actor in foreign and security policy.

Mr. Bruno Maçäes, former Portuguese minister, stated that is was a mistake to release strategy the day after British referendum.

Amb. Cameron Munter talked about the transatlantic relations and the upcoming US elections, while Mr. Richard Whitman about the Brexit and its negative effects on the EU.

Later during the day, a discussion about ”Women Cooperation in Regional Disputes”, hosted by the OSCE, took place and brought to the table women politicians from Kosovo and Serbia: Dijana Vukomanović‚ Member of Parliament, Belgrade‚ Emilia Redžepi‚ Member of Parliament, Pristina‚ Dubravka Filipovski‚ Member of Parliament, Belgrade‚ Jeta Krasniqi‚ Project Manager, Kosova Democratic Institute. It was moderated by Sonja Lokar‚ Executive Director, CEE Network for Gender Studies.

Dijana Vukomanović spoke about the discrimination against women in the society, but noted that they should not allow themselves to be victims and should also show future generations not to be victims.

Jeta Krasniqi said that the relationship between Serbia and Kosovo were not optimal, but that issues these countries were faced need to be resolved. Every woman in Serbia and Kosovo has a responsibility to help create a better future.

Dubravka Filipovski emphasized the necessity for female-male dialogue in order to answer the solve violence over women, and agreed with Vukomanovic that women need financial independence.

Sonja Lokar concluded the event by saying that ”women in Serbia and Kosovo have been put through terrible experiences in the past”, but that past should never repeat.