Bled Strategic Forum: EU must find more efficient solutions to crises, challenges

A traditional, two-day international conference called the Bled Strategic Forum ended on Friday, with most participants agreeing that the EU must find more efficient mechanisms to respond to security challenges that threaten with disintegration processes and strengthening of populist nationalism in the member-countries as well as the rest of the world.

The conference, held in the Slovenian lake resort, brought together close to 700 participants from some 50 countries.

The main panel discussion held on the final day of the event was between foreign ministers from southeast European countries on the topic of whether the EU was still an attractive and stabilising force for them, while the second topic was the political and security situation in the region.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Davutoglu participated in the debate, warning that the door to the EU had to stay open. However, he also complained that some European leaders had double standards in relation to Turkey and the situation in the country after the recent failed coup.

EU membership remains Turkey's goal, but the EU must be inclusive, multicultural and multiconfessional, said Cavusoglu.

He said that a possible failure of talks between the EU and Turkey on halting the migrant flow would be a failure for all. Commenting on the chaos and problems caused by the mass influx of refugees this and last year, Cavusoglu blamed for it the Brussels bureaucracy.

Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec said at a meeting with Cavusoglu that Ljubljana considered Turkey a key factor in preventing the repetition of last year's refugee crisis which has brought to the EU more than a million refugees and migrants from Syria and other countries of the Middle East and northern Africa.

Slightly more diplomatic in his criticism of Brussels and some EU member-countries was Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, who at talks with Erjavec called for regional stability and closer economic relations.

After the economic and migrant crisis, Brexit and the increase in terrorist threats, the EU could lose its appeal, however, membership of the EU remains a priority for the incumbent Serbian government, Dacic said at a panel debate on the public appeal of the European integration process.

The EU could become less attractive also because of its policy of setting conditions, which creates an impression of uneven treatment among candidate countries, said Dacic.

"Lately we have been witnessing the fact that in some EU member-countries proclaimed European values are being brought into question while Serbia, with its active policy in recent years, has demonstrated that it advocates reconciliation in the Western Balkans, as well as economic and legal reforms and the rule of law," Dacic said, mentioning also Serbia's positive role in the migrant crisis.

Attending the Bled conference was also Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, who on Monday expressed concern, together with Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, that the migrant crisis could happen again, that the problem of refugees should be approached as a humanitarian problem but that one should also be pragmatic and realistic. She also said that the problem should be dealt with at its source, in migrants' home countries.

Slovenian PM Miro Cerar on Monday expressed concern that processes of disintegration in the EU could continue or even cause the EU to fall apart if its member-countries started putting up barriers against migrants and terrorist threats as that would also prevent the free flow of people, goods and services on which the EU's fundamental principles were based.

Also discussed was an increase in nationalism and populist policies in Europe.

Grabar-Kitarovic warned about the need to avoid ideological quarrels in political debates and about an increase in nationalism and populist rhetoric in some neighbouring countries.

Last update: Tue, 06/09/2016 - 20:56

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