5th edition of Balkan SAYS Security Architecture Youth Seminar in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia –brought together students and young professionals to debate the challenges in front of the Euro-Atlantic integration of the Western Balkans

As the security is the main object of the law, according to the English philosopher and jurist Jeremy Bentham teaching, the security across the Western Balkans continues to be among the highest security priorities and challenges for Europe and the Atlantic community, putting the question for the rule of law in number of different aspects as the most demanding challenge in front of the stability and the European future of the Western Balkans. The Western Balkans’ security has become the focus of the 5th edition of Balkan SAYS Youth security seminar in Slovenia. The peace-building operations in the region, the national identity and nationalism as source of radicalism, the arms race in the regional security, the post-fact era and misinformation environment, and the impact for the European security of the threats emerging from the South have been the burning issues at the center of this year’s seminar, organized by YATA Slovenia and brought together exceptional young professionals and academics from all over the world. The four days between 11th and 14th of October of the seminar have been hosted by the picturesque Kranjska Gora, Slovenia in the Julian Alps, organized in a rich programme of five panels with distinguished speakers and guests, experienced moderators (Nina Pejič, Meliha Muherina, Blaž Grilj, Katja Cimermančič and dr. Anton Bebler) and original and relevant questions raised by the participants. The best articles written by the participants, dedicated to the five sub-topics have been presented in the YATA Slovenia magazine, Integrations, in its October issue.

The shared perspective and insight of the expertise in the seminar’s discussions from dr. Anton Bebler, the President of the Euro-Atlantic Council of Slovenia, the Brigadier General Robert Huston of NATO HQ Sarajevo, mag. Nataša Dolenc Lisec from the Defence Ministry of Slovenia, Mirko Cigler from the Association of the Slovenian Peacekeepers during the opening address and the first panel have been essential for the quality of the first panel’s discussion and brought to the forefront the analysis of the peace-building operations’ results, importance for establishing lasting peace in the region and the progress which today needs to be advanced and integrated in the next phase of the transition process towards the European accession.

In the first day, the participants had the honor and the pleasure to have lunch with the American Ambassador in Ljubljana, Slovenia, H.E. Brent Hartley and to ask him wide range of questions relevant to the American policy in the region.

The Second panel dedicated to the problems of the nationalism as a source of radicalism have been centred around the speakers from OSCE’s Special Representative to the Chairperson in Office on Youth and Security, Matteo Pugliese, miss Armina Mujanović from the Democratization Policy Council and dr. Mitja Žagar from the Institute of Ethnic Studies. The panel discussion raised the topics of connection between the fear and the hate in Bosnia and the modern Islam, the historical record of diversity in the region, the fundamentalism as factor in Bosnia and the youth as focus of the OSCE’s work in the region.

The third panel has been dedicated to the arms race and the modernization process of the arms in the Western Balkans countries, presented by the speakers: Vedrana Djukarić from RACVIAC, dr. Uroš Svete from the University of Ljubljana and Andrej Kavar from the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Slovenia, putting light on the process of arms modernization going on in Serbia and Croatia mainly, as the two biggest countries in the region and the historical perspective to their current problems in arms modernization, and the process of reaching to the same standards, relevant for all countries from the region.  

During the fourth panel, the topic of post- fact era has been debated with the panelists: Igor Jurič from RTV Slovenia and Daniel Fazlić from Siol/ Planet TV. The hybrid war and fake news relevance in the Western Balkans context has been discussed as well as the world-wide tendencies which originate from the contemporary digital media state of development of economics and technology. Later, in the night the participants in the company of the panelists have celebrated the 5th anniversary of the seminar with a specially prepared cake and regional desert Slovenian wine.

The fifth panel, dedicated to the threats originating from the south for the European security has been led by the panelists: dr. Zoran Jolevski, dr. Primož Šterbenc from the University of Ljubljana and Itai Reuveni, from the Institute for NGO Research.  It has been focused on the change in the geopolitical environment in the last decade and the challenges which the Sunni branch of Muslim faith have been facing during the military interventions during the 2000s and the subsequent political changes in the Muslim world.

During the four days in Kranjska Gora, the participants have elevated their understanding for the regional security issues and added experience to their capacity as experts and analysts, empowering the young professionals dedicated to the integration of the region in the Euro-Atlantic community. More than that, they get to connect, share ideas and expand their own networks, while enjoying the beautiful nature and the interesting events.

Written by Elena Andreeva