European Western Balkans

[BSF] Forum wraps up with a call for a new approach of both EU and WB

Sonja Stojanović Gajić, Sonja Licht, Suzana Grubješić; Photo: Flickr/Belgrade Security FForum

BELGRADE – The eighth Belgrade Security Forum titled “Finding Answers Together to the New Normal” concluded yesterday, with the members of the Executive Borad Sonja Licht, Suzana Grubješić and Sonja Stojanović Gajić agreeing that EU should change its approach to the Balkans, and vice versa, that the Balkans should change its approach to the Union.

“It is extremely important that we have managed to bring the global debate home”, said President of the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence Sonja Licht, summing up the impressions from the Forum.

She emphasised that, during the three days of Forum, “great sessions” focused on Middle East, Asian Century and the fourth industrial revolution took place, and assessed that those topics may not be as important on a daily political level, but that they will determine our future.

Her recommendation for Serbia is to open itself, to learn and do as much as possible to ensure that its education system and citizens follow the new trends, such as fourth industrial revolution, which brings new reality.

“We have to be ready for it, even as a small and relatively underdeveloped country. We can leap very high if we prepare ourselves on time”, remarked Licht.

Director of the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy Sonja Stojanović Gajić assessed that the main conclusion of the BSF is that the biggest crisis today is a crisis of distrust.

“Citizens distrust the political elites in Europe, and even more in the Western Balkans. Many member states and states that want to become members of the EU have lost their belief in the European project, and EU itself has lost trust in many of its partners, including countries such as ours, which want to become EU members”, Stojanović Gajić thniks.

Adding that in this kind of atmosphere populist politicians intimidate people not to talk openly and critically, she said that the Forum tried to create an exactly opposite atmosphere.

“One of the direct recommendations of the BSF is that the approach of EU to the Western Balkans and the engagement of the region with the Union need to change. The main change has to be an open identification of the problems concerning the rule of law and democracy”, said Stojanović Gajić.

General Secretary of European Movement in Serbia Suzana Grubješić stressed that this year’s focus of the Forum was a relatively new phenomenon – the new normal, which entails crises in every area: economy, politics and society.

“There is a pathological form of the new normal, and that is the alternative right, populist movements that are all around us and that are shaking the foundations of international order, and most of all the EU”, she said.

Relationship between EU and Western Balkans has left the biggest impression on Grubješić.

“It has been said that nobody has a romantic view on the EU, that we have all become realists, that we know that the membership benefits are big and that both ourselves and the EU must make the effort to one day become member states”, she said.

“European Union needs a strong and stable Western Balkans, but our region also needs a strong and stable EU, and I hope that we are going to work on it together”, concluded Grubješić.

During the three day-long Forum, 20 panels and sessions took place. More than 100 speakers and 700 participants from Serbia, the region and other parts of Europe and the world gathered in the Hyatt Regency.

Belgrade Security Forum was organised by Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, Belgrade Centre for Security Policy and European Movement in Serbia.

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