A safe future of young generations, the spreading of populism and nationalism in the European Union over Brexit and the migrant crisis were some of the topics of a leaders' panel debate which on Monday, the first day of the Bled Forum, was also attended by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, Slovenian President Borut Pahor and the Speaker of the Canadian Senate George J. Furey also took part in the interesting debate on security challenges.
Panel debate moderator Nik Gowing warned that last year nobody could have assumed what kind of consequences the migrant wave would have in Europe, recalling that in the meantime Britons decided in a referendum to leave the European Union. He also said that the nationalist rhetoric was growing stronger in Europe, as were political forces announcing new referenda. These events, as well as the new global economy which threatens to close down jobs for future generations are causing and uneasiness creating tensions that pose a threat to Europe and the world, he said.
The refugee problem must still be treated and handled as a humanitarian problem, however with a huge dose of pragmatism and realism, Croatian President Grabar-Kitarovic said.
Allowing millions of refugees to settle in EU countries cannot be a long-term solution. The problem must be solved by creating better living conditions and making investments in the countries migrants are coming from, Grabar-Kitarovic said during the debate.
She said Croatia, as a transit country, had spend over EUR 20 million on migrants and refugees, adding that despite European efforts this issued had not been resolved. Grabar-Kitarovic added that at the same time, Croatia had invested a million euros in Syria.
Slovenian President Borut Pahor said the long-term plan should be the federalisation of the European Union, but while waiting for that, the migrant crisis should be resolved, as it was changing relations of political powers in Europe and was threatening its survival.
Albanian Prime Minister Rama criticised big and influential European countries for distancing themselves from migrants, while expecting some of its members, such as Slovenia and Croatia to carry the weight and and express solidarity.
Moderator Gowing said another proof that nationalism was on the rise was the defeat of German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Sunday's election in her own province and poor ratings of her CDU-CSU party, while at the same time the popularity of nationalistic right-wing parties is growing in Germany and in France.
The 11th edition of the Bled summit continued later on Monday evening and will resume on Tuesday when several debates will be held about the economy, politics, security and other topics.
Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec announced that Turkey's Foreign Minister would arrive in Bled on Tuesday.