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The Bled Strategic Forum has now existed for 15 year

The story of the Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) began in 2006 and this year marks its 15th anniversary. Round anniversaries are usually a good time to look back, reflect on the path we have taken, on a world that has undergone changes, as well as on ourselves, who have also changed alongside the world. Fifteen years is a negligible period in the historical context, and yet so many things have happened in those fifteen years that it would be difficult to squeeze them into a whole century.

In order to understand these changes and the world we live in, we need an anchor, a point in time that can act as a compass and direct us towards the future.

In fifteen years, the Bled Strategic Forum has proven that it can be such a compass – or an intersection of ideas, reflections and conversations about the changing present and the future that awaits us.

Just to illustrate the above – in 2006, when the first BSF was organised, the world had barely or never heard of words such as Facebook, twitter, hashtag, fake news, or Instagram. Artificial intelligence was still in the realm of science fiction, while cybersecurity, hybrid warfare, and climate change were topics with which only a narrow circle of people, in particular scientists and officials were familiar.

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Emergencies open doors to new possibilities

Yet, we could never have imagined that the 15th Bled Strategic Forum would take place in such circumstances and under such conditions. Although the world is moving faster, and changes and adjustments have become part of our daily lives, the COVID-19 pandemic, mainly due to its global character and the speed with which it has spread, represents a shock and a moment when the international community came to a standstill.

The pandemic has posed questions to which there are as yet no answers. It has made it clear that without solidarity and mutual assistance we cannot create a lasting, secure and democratic future.

The world's multilateral system has been put to the test, but it failed to pass with distinction. The EU must prove that the foundations on which it was built do not merely exist on paper, but provide guidance for our common future.

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    Prime Minister of the Hungary Viktor Orbán will be one of the guest at the Bled Strategic Forum 2020. Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

We live in a new normality to which we have not yet become accustomed. This is just as it should be. Even though we all became digitally literate and started working from home, we concurrently found, during the quarantine, that no digital platform could replace genuine human contact and conversation.

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This was also one of the main reasons that we undertook the organisation of the 15th BSF this year. We aimed to prove that the new circumstances do not necessarily mean that we should discard or give up on good things from the past, but that they must be done in a different way – taking into account all the measures to fight against COVID-19, while ensuring the best care for all participants. 

After extraordinary efforts, we have found that it is possible to organise an event that is different but essentially the same as in previous years.

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    Young BSF, 2018. Photo: Ministry of the Foreign Affairs archives

The 15th BSF also remains an inclusive space, a platform where the highest representatives of politics, business and civil society meet to discuss the most pressing issues of our present and, above all, the future.



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Author: Peter Grk

Date: 27. August 2020

Time to read: 2 min