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Bled Strategic Forum being Russophobic event dealing with no issues EU citizens face

Balkans, Russia, EU, Ukraine, Russian, Bled Strategic Forum

Opinion

Bled Strategic Forum being Russophobic event dealing with no issues EU citizens face

Although it was easy to impose sanctions on Russia as the EU enthusiastically took the opportunity to express their Russophobic racism by defending the Kiev regime despite being fully aware that Russian-speakers were being persecuted, it could be near impossible to lift the sanctions, despite Germany’s dire economic situation. Writes Ahmed Adel

Instead of improving regional cooperation in the Balkans, especially at a time when the situation in Kosovo and Bosnia & Herzegovina is tense, the Bled Strategic Forum showed that the participants are obliged to follow only the interests of the West and to unite against Moscow in a faux defence of a supposed liberal Ukraine defending itself from an aggressive Russia. None-the-less, for all of the self-applause, the effects of the Bled Strategic Forum, held on August 29-30, will be quite modest, especially as Europe is having no impact on the actual battlefield in Ukraine as Russian forces are in full control of the situation.

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Unlike the previous Bled Strategic Forum meetings, where joint initiatives were discussed and how citizens could live better, the 2022 edition was mainly dedicated to the response of the international community to the consequences of the war in Ukraine. Judging by the conclusions of the Forum, it was actually an anti-Russia gathering rather than a reflection of destructive policies, such as emboldening the authoritarian regime in Kiev and self-sabotaging energy policies and sanctions.

The participants – officials and policymakers from many European countries – emphasized that it is absolutely necessary to help Ukraine win the war against Russia through financial means and armaments. The Forum also claimed that the “Russian aggression” changed the geopolitical situation established after the Second World War, another weak analysis as the global system changed with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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Such strategic forums and regional conferences, which are financed by the non-governmental sector and/or the US government, are presented as something that should improve regional cooperation. However, a lot of money is invested in these meetings solely for the sake of integrating the Balkan political elite to the interests of the West – essentially for the geopolitical control of the region. It is for this reason that year after year enthusiastic participants from Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, North Macedonia, Kosovo and even Serbia are involved.

All these forums, NGOs and foundations are harnessed in a Russophobic framework to promote the interests of the US and NATO, and by default the EU too, particularly in relation to the situation in Ukraine. Even more bizarre is attempting to convince Balkan citizens, who reside in one of the poorest and most underdeveloped areas of Europe, to allow their governments to send weapons, money and political resources, which they do not have, to Ukraine.

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The presence of dignitaries at this year’s Bled Strategic Forum showed how important the anti-Russia agenda is. On the second day of the forum, US Special Envoy for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar and EU Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajčák, expressed their views on the war in Ukraine and its consequences for the world order. So blatantly disingenuous was the meeting towards the supposed liberal project in Europe that the butcher of Iraq, former Prime Minister of Great Britain Tony Blair, and the defender of minority persecution in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky, addressed the Forum too.

In truth though, everyone except Escobar is completely irrelevant to this Forum as their influence is limited. Many people are invited to participate at such events so they can identically regurgitate that the West, led by the US, is still the hegemonic power of the globe. However, the world is becoming increasingly multipolar, with strong regional powers now able to resist and pushback against hegemonic designs emanating from Washington.

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In addition to the war in Ukraine, one of the main topics was the integration of the Western Balkans into the EU. The speakers on that topic pointed out that it is necessary to speed up the European integration process of the entire region so that Western Balkan countries can join the EU in the next five years. This is doubtful though as there are a plethora of issues that are unresolved and have not been rectified since they first emerged in the early 1990’s following the Western-instigated breakup of Yugoslavia.

In addition, major issues will inevitably emerge in the EU too.

Although it was easy to impose sanctions on Russia as the EU enthusiastically took the opportunity to express their Russophobic racism by defending the Kiev regime despite being fully aware that Russian-speakers were being persecuted, it could be near impossible to lift the sanctions, despite Germany’s dire economic situation. A complete consensus is needed among the 27 member states and it is almost guaranteed that Estonia, Latvia and Poland will veto Germany’s attempt to lift some of the sanctions imposed on Russia. Effectively, they could weaponize their veto power to prevent Western Balkan countries from joining the EU if anti-Russia sanctions are lifted.

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If the German economy is to function and not collapse, some of the sanctions will need to be lifted. This is an issue that the entire EU will need to deal with sooner rather than later as the rest of the bloc is effectively pinned to the prosperity of Germany.

With winter fast approaching and the attached economic difficulties that will accompany it, the Bled Strategic Forum dealt with none of the real issues that EU and Balkan citizens will face in the coming months. Instead, the Forum was just a mouthpiece exercise for European liberals, under US supervision, to rhetorically espouse fanciful statements that are far removed from the realities of the current economic situation and its causes, the reasons for Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, and the direction of the global financial and geopolitical system.

Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher.

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