Belgrade Security Forum 2016
The Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, the European Movement in Serbia and the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy are organizing the sixth Belgrade Security Forum that will take place from October 11 – 13, 2017 under the working title “Building a Common Future in the Age of Uncertainty”
When it ended with Donald Trump’s victory, 2016 presented less than a clean break with the past, but rather a venture into the unknown. As the old order has been weakened, one thing became certain: no more “business as usual”.
Leaders and movements that have capitalized on popular discontent are intent on offering a new worldview, which may appeal to many. A lot seems to be going their way: inequality has increased since 2008; democracy remains in retreat; many crises unsolved.
The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU, and the much-speculated “hard Brexit” has and will have a profound effect, leaving difficult questions on how to proceed. What will be the raison d’etre of this post-Brexit EU? Who will help Germany steer the European “ship” across rough waters lying ahead? With more integration seen as too optimistic, many advocate fallback to the less ambitious goal of Europe of nations. Nevertheless, resurgence of geopolitics has led to renewed interest for Western Balkans. What might happen if it becomes unchecked, and left to its own dangerous dynamics of conflict and cooperation?
The rise of populism, coupled with a sharp rise in in-state inequality and the establishment of the “post-truth” worldview brings us to the question – is democracy ready for this tumultuous future? Do we have the tools to overcome?
What is to be our response?
How can we build a common future in an age characterized by uncertainty?
Belgrade Security Forum 2016
The Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, the European Movement in Serbia and the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy are organizing the sixth Belgrade Security Forum that will take place from October 12 – 14, 2016 under the working title “Will Democracy Survive the Global Disorder?”
With the preparations for the 2016 edition of the Belgrade Security Forum well under way, several trends bring us great concern. What used to be the international order is not functioning anymore. The threat of interstate conflict – lessened by the advent of security cooperation – has made its grand return in the backdrop of the resurgence of violence in the Middle East. The EU – a destination for thousands who had to leave their countries – has yet to reach an agreement to be endorsed by all its members on how to address the migrant crisis. Whether the agreement is reached or not, migrants will continue to traverse the region of South East Europe, which remains troubled by internal instability and a hostage to common recurrences of populism.
Faced with these challenges, democracy suffers. “Arab Spring” of broken promises has transitioned into permanent “winter of our discontent” as modern radicals collide with authoritarian regimes. The spillover effects of this conflict have spread across European soil, fostering discord between political elites and the citizens, with legitimacy gap growing ever wider. Thus, attacks on the freedom of the press and eroding of civil liberties have become a norm in transitional societies we thought were being transformed by the EU.
In these circumstances, populists of all colors have flourished. They offer radical counter-arguments to the political mainstream, of which many have grown tired. In the aftermath of tragic events, they are the ones setting the tone of debate. Seductive and emotional, they build their case on the fear – of the rising cost of education, of unemployment, insecurity – while offering no plausible solutions and alternatives of their own for societies’ most pressing issues. We therefore, remain concerned:
- Should we fear the populist surge?
- Can European values survive current security dynamics? How can we reaffirm them?
- If governments fail, will civil society be able to “save the day”?
Belgrade Security Forum 2015
The Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, the European Movement in Serbia and the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy are organizing the Fifth Belgrade Security Forum that will take place from September 30 – October 2, 2015 under the working title “Can Europe Redefine Itself?”
As 2014 draws to a close, many of us would agree with a quote from a British journalist wishing that “the world were not a place of uncontrollable catastrophe”. From the plains of the Eastern Ukraine to the bustling streets of Peshawar, lives are being lost in scores, civilian far more often than combatant. Wars are being fought by other means as well: the price of oil, pipeline politics, the stability of a currency, or an interest rate all prove to be equally effective weapons. The same global interconnectedness that once had us observe globalization with awe is now being used to perpetuate conflicts. In less than a year, we have witnessed the end of the post-Cold War order, without any real substitute in sight.
Most, if not all of the dilemmas that had been posed prior to the global financial crisis remain unanswered. In the Eurasian sphere, a return to pre-2008 growth rates remains elusive if not impossible, as even China’s economy seems to be slowing down. The EU has yet to “punch its weight” in global affairs. With the US – rather reluctantly – considering their re-engagement, months passed before the EU came up with a unified response to the conflict in Ukraine, at great cost for some of its members. The confrontation with Russia is being escalated through a pending energy crisis, forcing the EU to look for other sources and supply routes to secure its energy needs. Believers in consolidated democracies face the challenge of those that are illiberal, and have chosen stability over democratization. One of the focal points of these debates in Europe is the position of Germany with regards to the increasing challenges that we face.
The conference will also endorse some of the confidence building mechanisms, platforms and initiatives standing at our disposal. BSF 2015 coincides with an important milestone – 40 years since the signing of the Helsinki Final Act, as well as an important event for the region – Serbia holding the OSCE Chairmanship. Paying due attention to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, BSF 2015 will foray into the future – one of social inclusion and gender equality. Finally, we will reaffirm enlargement as the EU’s single most successful policy, by critically reassessing it from several angles. Many issues that create anxiety such as the bleak economic prospects for the post-Cold War generations and the rise of ISIS will also be discussed.
BSF 2015 provides us with an ideal and timely opportunity for their deliberation. We cordially invite you to join the debate and explore some of these issues with us in Belgrade.
Belgrade Security Forum 2014
Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, Belgrade Centre for Security Policy and the European Movement in Serbia are organizing the fourth Belgrade Security Forum that will take place from September 30-October 2 2014 under the working title “ Europe 2014: Closure and/or New Beginning?”
The years 1914, 1939 and 1989 have been the cornerstones of the 20th century. Never before has one jubilee in such a symbolic way encompassed the history of a century as that of the beginning of the “age of extremes” as Hobsbawm referred to it. The fall of the Wall in 1989 seemed to mark the end to threats and divides brought by this century of war and destruction, which started with WWI and concluded with the end of the decades-long Cold War. Yet a quarter of a century after this glorious peace display, essential issues of Europe’s security and the security of the region are re-opened. Is this symbolic 100-year anniversary of WWI a sign of the end of European divides, or does it mark the beginning of new ones? Are security threats and problems we face still the same, or should we define new social phenomena that the globalized world brought along?
The conference will host panel debates on various topics related to global and European security challenges, particularly within the framework of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. Among other issues, renowned participants will examine to what extent the IWW anniversary can be considered as a closure/new beginning of the historical and integrative discourse in the Western Balkans and Europe, and discuss about dilemmas of the enlargement in the line with the 10th anniversary of the Big-Bang Enlargement. Particular attention will be given to the recommendations issued by the International Commission on the Balkans in 2005 and the broader (dis)integrative context and policies in the Western Balkans and Mediterranean area. As was our aim for the last three years, most of these panels will try to examine the transformation of the Balkans from a security problem to a security partner and bring forward the opportunities and lessons learned from this process.
Following the best practices from the last three years, the academic part of the Forum will be organized for emerging young researchers and leaders on 30 September, under the title: Usable Past, Collective Memories and International Security.
The year 2014 marks 100th anniversary of the First World War, quarter of a century since the end of the Cold War and a decade since the Big Bang enlargement of the EU. As such, it represents a good opportunity to reflect on the role of collective memories in world politics. The academic event aims to discuss how collective memory is implicated in contemporary security practices and discourses. Instead of looking at how past events have influenced the present, we are interested in how is the past used and misused to inform security representations and shape security policies. Specific attention will be paid to the use of historic analogies and lessons learns in security policy making as well as the culture of remembrance by and within security institutions – military, intelligence and police. We welcome contributions that work at the intersection of security studies and sociology of memory in order to shed light on the importance of collective memories for theory and practice of international security.
Belgrade Security Forum 2013
The Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, Belgrade Centre for Security Policy and European Movement in Serbia are organizing the third Belgrade Security Forum that will take place on September 19-21, 2013 under the working title “Is the state under de (construction)? Risks and responses from the Balkans and beyond”
The Belgrade Security Forum 2013 will address pressing issues of regional and international foreign policy, security and economy, with a special emphasis on the role of state and non-state actors in transitional international relations. Among other issues, the renowned participants will discuss the transformation of security cooperation in Europe and beyond, as well as its effects on security prospects in different parts of the world. They will also examine the results of state-building processes in the region and beyond. The final main session will be dedicated to inter-state relations and their transformative consequences. Particular attention will be given to the “Helsinki plus 40” process and the future of the security community of OSCE states. As it has been our aim for the last two years, most of the panels will try to examine the transformation of the Balkans from a security problem to a security partner and bring forward the opportunities and lessons learned from this process.
Following on the best practices from the last two years, the academic part of the forum, titled Transformation of State and Professional Practices in International Security, will be organized for emerging leading scholars, so that they, too, may have an opportunity to provide insights on the topics on the conference agenda.
It is the biggest international security conference in Southeast Europe which gathers several hundred top level policy and decision makers, NGO leaders, experts, academics and journalists each year.
For more information, visit www.belgradeforum.org or follow us on Facebookand Twitter.
Belgrade Security Forum 2012
The Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, Belgrade Centre for Security Policy and European Movement in Serbia, in partnership with the UN Women, UNDP SEEAC, Balkan Trust for Democracy and Slovak Atlantic Commission, are organizing the second Belgrade Security Forum that will take place on September 20-22, 2012 under the working title “Coping with the crisis: challenges to democracy and security”.
The Wall Street Crash of 1929 ushered in a decade of the Great Depression and led to the most devastating war in human history. Today, the world is again facing an economic crisis, the largest since the Great Crash. The crisis is already creating social and political unrest around the globe. Stability is challenged in both developed and developing countries, in democracies and autocracies alike, with highly uncertain outcomes. Cracks in the liberal international economic order are placing already fragile global security architecture under heavy duress. Yet, today’s global economic predicament also creates new opportunities. Sometimes it takes a crisis to allow us to see further and act boldly.
The aim of the Belgrade Security Forum 2012 is to bring leading strategic thinkers and policy-makers together to discuss ways of seizing these opportunities. Because coping with a crisis in the right way is impossible without getting the crisis right.
The Belgrade Security Forum is a high-level regional hub for policy dialogue intending to meaningfully contribute to the development of the security community in the Western Balkans and to ongoing European and global security and foreign policy debates.
Belgrade Security Forum 2011
Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, Belgrade Centre for Security Policy and the European Movement in Serbia are launching new security initiative – Belgrade Security Forum.
The purpose of the Belgrade Security Forum is threefold:
- To bring the European and global security debate to the Balkans;
- To discuss Balkan security issues within the European and global security framework; and,
- To present Balkan achievements and dilemmas to the participants in the European and global security debate.
Two decades ago the Balkan region was considered to be, not for the first time in its history, the powder keg of Europe. Today, it is regarded as a success story in the making. The region is no longer conflict ridden, but the political and security transition towards liberal democracy and sustainable peace is yet to be consolidated. One of the prerequisite for this transition to be brought to a successful and irreversible conclusion is to build a genuine security community composed of peoples and states of the region. This can be achieved only through a region-wide debate about the burning issues in the Balkans, carried out by political leaders and members of the international community, civil society and research community.
The first Forum under the title “The Balkans and Global Security: What Do We Have in Common, What Sets Us Apart?” was held on 14 -16 September 2011 in Belgrade.
More about the Belgrade Security Forum on www.belgradeforum.org