The Balkan Dialogue - 2018: speeches and comments

29 April 2018

On April 26, the Balkan Dialogue – 2018, one of the most successful research and educational programs of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund, has opened in Sarajevo. Participants from fourteen countries arrived in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina to attend the conference.

The audience was welcomed by Executive Director of the Gorchakov Fund Leonid Drachesvky. He told about the history of the Balkan Dialogue and reminded how in 2014 one of the most well-known participants of the program – film director Emir Kusturica said: “Earlier Europe was divided by the iron curtain, now it is the curtain of CNN”.

According to Leonid Drachevsky, today, four years later, the situation has dramatically changed. We can observe the high noon of mediacracy. It dictates its terms in such a dreadful way that people are afraid of speaking their mind. They are scared that as a result of that they will not be accepted by the society.

That is why, stressed the head of the Gorchakov Fund, meetings in such a format as the Balkan Dialogue are so important. Indeed, experts can express their point of view without offending each other; they can listen to and hear their opponents. Such dialogue remains the most important tool of search for exit strategies in complicated situations in the so-called “era of post-truth”.

Leonid Drachevsky mentioned that the location of the conference had not been chosen accidentally. Problems of peacekeeping are considered to be the most intricate. Both the USSR and Yugoslavia after the breakup were propelled into the civil wars.

The executive director of the Gorchakov Fund believes that each individual problem has its own solution. And it is crucial to look for the ways to break the deadlock, but not to get stuck on search for the guilty.

Ambassador Exraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Russia to Bosnia and Herzegovina Pyotr Ivantcov addressed the participants of the Balkan Dialogue. He supported the fact that the conference had been organized in the right place and at the right time. Topics of the discussion were in line with the problems of the modern Balkans.

Pyotr Ivantcov believes that all the topics of the agenda should be addressed with an open-minded and non-politicized discussion. Results of the dialogue are needed by diplomats and politicians in the countries of the region.

The Balkans provide a space for open cooperation based on mutual interest. Only such an open and committed dialogue can lead to stability and security.

The Balkan Dialogue can become a permanent international platform, which will promote strengthening of mutual understanding in the region, summarized the diplomat.

During the first session of the conference, relations between the Balkan countries with Russia and the EU were discussed. Associate Professor of the Department of International Relations at the Russian State University for  the Humanities Dr. Nikita Bondarev talked about various approached and concepts of “soft power”. According to him, the history unites us much better than certain modern technologies though one should not disregard studying them. 

Director of the Institute of European Studies (Serbia) Dr. Misha Jurkovic demonstrated dominance of NATO’s interest over interests of the EU in Eurointegration processes by grouping together major propagandistic platitudes related to Moscow. According to him, Russia always speaks against expansion of NATO, but never against Eurointegration of any given country on the continent.

Associate Professor of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” Dr. Darina Grigorova spoke about the place of the Balkans on the ideological field of the Russkiy Mir and Pax Eurasiana. She drew a comparison between the time when Russia was restrained in the 19th century and how it was done at the present time; explained how during different years geopolitical barriers for Moscow and the Balkans were crated.

The speaker expressed a concern that the image of Russia had been systematically damaged and that affected perception of the country in the world.

Read more in Russian here