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Role of Europe in Changing Global Order Main Topic of Bled Forum (background)

Bled, 29 August (STA) - A number of distinguished guests from politics, business and academia will meet at the lakeside resort of Bled between 1 and 3 September for the seventh edition of the Bled Strategic Forum (BSF), dedicated to $Europe and the Reshaped Global Order$.

The forum is to examine the role of crisis-plagued Europe in a changing international community and the regional challenges in the southern Mediterranean, especially in Syria, SE Europe, and Afghanistan. It will provide a tree-day platform for debates among the young, business representatives, politicians and others.

Taking the floor first will be the young, who will debate on Saturday the situation of young people in the Balkans and changes taking place in the Mediterranean, among other things.

Sunday's part will start off with a business forum, a novelty at BSF, which will be followed by a "panel of leaders". Five more panels are planned later in the day, featuring foreign ministers, leading representatives of international organisations and other high-profile guests.

The Foreign Ministry and the Slovenia-based Centre for European Perspective, which organise the event, expect more than 300 participants from around the world, including two prime ministers and nine foreign ministers. President Danilo Türk will be among the Slovenian officials present and will also address the forum.

Expected highlights include the main panel, which will reflect on what kind of role Europe should adopt in a new, multi-polar world, where the centres of power and decision making are spreading to new countries and players.

The question most in need of answers is how the EU can be regenerated internally in order to get to play a role in the first place.

The panel will feature OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria, EBRD president Suma Chakrabarti, Slovakian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Miroslav Lajčak and European Commissioner for Environment Janez Potočnik.

Deputy Director-General of the WTO Alejandro Jara will the central guest of the second panel, which will deal with the crisis and the period after the crisis. Jara will also participate in Monday's panel on the potential role of China in the resolving of the crisis in Europe.

The final debate on Sunday will be dedicated to the revolutions in the Arab world, with a focus on the crisis in Syria. Ribal al Asad, related to President Bashar al Assad but representing the Syrian opposition, will be among the guests, as will Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki and Jordanian FM Nasser Judeh.

Other high-profile participants include OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier and NATO Assistant Secretary General for Operations Stephen Evans, who will take part in the panel on Afghanistan after the departure of international forces in 2014.

The closing panel, examining the European future of countries in SE Europe, will feature Kosovo PM Hashim Thaci, Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusić and her counterparts from Montenegro, Nebojša Kaluđerović, and Macedonia, Nikola Poposki.

They will be joined by Lajčak as the former high international representative in Bosnia and Eric S. Rubin, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.

Notable bilateral meetings held on the sideline will include talks between Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec and Croatian counterpart Pusić and a meeting in Ljubljana between Slovenian PM Janez Janša and his Albanian opposite number Sali Berisha, who will also be on hand in Bled.

A lot of attention will moreover be dedicated to business delegations, especially those from China, the US and Brasil.

The importance of the forum for the Slovenian economy has been underlined once again by all of the funding coming from sponsors and donors despite of the crisis, BSF Secretary General Miriam Možgan has told the STA, while announcing a further expansion of the forum in the future, especially in the business part.

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