Minister Dr Logar opens the Bled Strategic Forum
Today, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Anže Logar opened the 15th Bled Strategic Forum (BSF). In his address in the Bled Festival Hall he expressed his satisfaction that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reshaped the world, this year’s edition of the BSF is taking place in person. He commended the large attendance of high representatives of states and institutions, among them eight prime ministers and six foreign ministers, which will present their visions of tackling the challenges after the pandemic during the Forum.
Minister Logar stressed that the changes happening in the international environment are not a by-product of the pandemic, but the COVID-19 crisis simply enhanced and sped them up. Economic and trade relations have become more competitive, protectionist and unpredictable. The global security environment has changed, as conventional threats are being joined by terrorism and illegal migration. The threats have also become hybrid, moving to the cyber space and slowly penetrating our democratic processes. The European Union, too, is facing challenges – Brexit, migration crisis, and diverging views of the Member States on the principle of solidarity and the rule of law. According to Minister Logar, the future is not linear any more, so a multidimensional approach is a must, and the purpose of today’s Forum is to address these issues.
In his words, the Union will have to invest efforts into improving its crisis management mechanisms to better respond to disturbances and challenges arising from the pandemic, cyber threats and demographic changes. We must all strengthen our resilience to the migration pressures caused by conflicts and climate change. Minister Logar expressed his view that we should all focus on protecting our democracies, values and freedoms, while taking into consideration the different historical experiences of European countries. In this regard, Slovenia believes that the continuation of the EU enlargement process to the Western Balkan countries is an integral part of the Union’s vision. European unity and political will were demonstrated in reaching a compromise on the Multiannual Financial Framework and the Recovery Fund, which proves that the Union can deliver when it comes to key issues.
With international organisations weakened, the focus has shifted on cooperation within smaller, regional frameworks, and Slovenia once more looks towards Central Europe – the geographic and cultural space that has shaped it through centuries. Minister Logar went on to mention concrete projects enhancing the connectivity between Central European countries, primarily in transport and energy infrastructure. He said that the economic recovery and resilience regarding health, climate change and social matters were not possible without stability and security. Member States must engage more strongly in the European Common Security and Defence Policy, whereby European security is closely linked to the trans-Atlantic alliance. Minister Logar underlined that we must all safeguard our partnerships within the EU and NATO based on shared values and democratic standards, and also accept the concept of fair burden-sharing.
With regard to cyber security and digitalisation, the minister highlighted the importance of effective and accessible digital tools in speeding up the Union’s recovery and ensuring future European security, stating that in these processes we need to think about European solutions leading to European autonomy in cyber space.
Minister Logar summed up his address by noting that the pandemic should be viewed as an incentive to find new, safer ways of coping with crises with our closest and most reliable partners, and to cooperate in mitigating their consequences. In his opinion, the Union’s key challenge will be to decisively strengthen its role on the global political stage and at the same time safeguard the common European values and freedoms.
In the Leaders’ Panel, prime ministers and the Director of the International Monetary Fund are to discuss Europe after Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic. The Leaders’ Panel will be followed by the Foreign Ministers’ Panel with the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell on the future of the European Union and topical regional and global issues.