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“We need to keep our nerve in the next few months”: Foreign Minister Schallenberg at the Bled Strategic Forum

AUSTRIA, August 28 - Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg participated in the 17th Bled Strategic Forum in Slovenia on 29 August 2022. The theme of this year’s forum was “The rule of power or the power of rules?” The Foreign Minister took part in a high-calibre panel discussion titled “How many Europes in Europe?” on the geopolitical turning point triggered by the Russian war of aggression and its consequences for Europe. In addition, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg used his time in Slovenia to hold several bilateral meetings focussing on the Western Balkans.

The panel discussion “How many Europes in Europe?” was strongly marked by the Russian attack on Ukraine and its effects on Europe. During the panel, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg emphasised Europe’s resilience and noted that the EU sanctions against Russia were already having an impact.

Russia is facing a nearly 10% recession; by contrast, the European economy is expected to grow by up to 3%. Russia’s inflation rate is twice as high as Europe’s, and entire industrial sectors are being shut down. So we should not buy into the Russian narrative,

said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg at the Bled Strategic Forum.

Offering a look ahead at the coming months, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg called upon Europe to maintain its united front and keep a cool head.

We cannot lose our nerve in the next few months. In an unprecedented show of unity, we were able to put together seven sanction packages. But now the difficulties come into play. We must continue to stand together,

said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.

In addition to Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, the other panel participants included the host, Slovenian Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon; Icelandic Foreign Minister Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir; the French State Secretary for Europe, Laurence Boone; Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares Bueno; Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu; Portuguese Foreign Minister João Gomes Cravinho; and Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau.

During his bilateral work meetings at the Bled Strategic Forum, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg focused on the Western Balkans. At a working lunch with the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt, the Austrian Foreign Minister addressed the political influence that third countries have on the country, which exacerbates its existing divisions. Speaking with Sir Stuart Peach, the UK Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to the Western Balkans, Foreign Minister Schallenberg emphasised the importance of the United Kingdom’s ongoing support for the Western Balkans’ European perspective. With Montenegrin Foreign Minister Ranko Krivokapić, he discussed the country’s leading role in the EU enlargement process in the Western Balkans. Foreign Minister Schallenberg also inquired about the progress of necessary reforms in Montenegro. In addition, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg met with the EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, Miroslav Lajčák, to discuss normalising relations between Serbia and Kosovo.

The Bled Strategic Forum is one of the leading international conferences in Central and South-East Europe, bringing together experts from various industries and areas of expertise to talk about innovative solutions for future strategic and political issues.