Interview With Mr Peter Grk, Secretary-General Of The Bled Strategic Forum
This year’s Bled Strategic Forum is already its twelfth consecutive outing
Q: Why did the organisers decide to host one of the most powerful international conferences in Bled? What do you find to be the advantages and disadvantages of organising such an important event in this city?
Bled has been home to the Bled Strategic Forum since its inception 12 years ago, providing on the one hand a symbolic, famous and world-renowned Slovenian location, and on the other an environment that is far from the everyday hustle and bustle. Our participants have the possibility to focus entirely on the discussions and the issues that we expect to address in Bled. There are many responses received from our participants, speakers and important guests who like to remark on the location, always praising the idyllic environment that offers a peaceful and inspiring setting for discussions on the pressing problems of today’s world.
Bled is an appropriate, logical and correct location for the organisation of this type of event and the local community has welcomed us very well during these years.
Q: Each year the conference provides a platform for discussions on key regional and global issues. How do you make the decision on which topics are really important and most worthy of tabling?
The forum is growing and becoming more recognizable in both regional and global terms from year to year, which is reflected in the strong interest in participation. This year, for example, we hosted over 1,000 participants from very diverse backgrounds – coming from the worlds of diplomacy, politics and public affairs, as well as from the economy, entrepreneurship and technology, all supplemented by academics, civil society and representatives of civil society organisations, as well as young people. It is precisely because of this type of participants that the themes we address are varied, and each year they follow a common story: the red thread.
This year, the panels offered a reflection and discussion of the new reality in which we live – things are changing rapidly, and our perception of reality around us is trying its best to follow these changes. More specifically, the events around us are repeated, the situation is often unstable, apparently uncontrollable. This is not a something new in itself, however our response is different, and our perception, which is influenced mainly by the way of receiving information and perceiving the external reality. With digitization and globalization, information that is often completely unfiltered comes to us more quickly and is constantly involved in our daily lives, which makes us feel closer and more important.
In line with our ambition to bring key representatives from politics, the economy and civil society together in one place, the topics we address are adapted to all three groups – the challenges that the world is facing are common and our programme is the result of careful consideration, monitoring of current events around the world and in the region, and at the same time, of course, Slovenian engagement in these areas.
Q: Do you think that such discussions can influence decisions taken internationally?
A look at this year’s list of participants shows that at the beginning of September an exceptional number of extremely important agents and decision makers from the regional and international levels came together in Bled. It is precisely for this reason that it is expected that the discussion, to a certain extent, will of course influence both the course of meetings that take place in Bled on those days, as well as the agreements that follow in the coming days and weeks. It is not a direct influence, but certainly it is a question of intertwining topics, which at the moment urgently need to be actively addressed, as well as the thoughts that decision makers develop in dialogue and cooperation with other representatives.
Q: The conference is of a closed type, organised at a high level. Have you considered that in the future that at least part of the meeting could be organised in a more informal and/or public spirit, in line with the beliefs and expectations of the millennial generation who hanker for technologically advanced, informal and freer forms of meetings?
Each year the Forum also follows the development of events and trends in this field too, with certain new approaches and formats of debates being introduced, and this year we also had the opportunity to see several events and discussions that took place in different, innovative formats, between which were confrontations and the so-called ‘fishbowl’ approach. Certainly, in the field of technology, trends are followed, and of course it always responds primarily to the needs that the forum and its participants have.