BSF Discussion: 10th Anniversary of the Belgrade Security Forum
From the very beginning, the Belgrade Security Forum (BSF) built its unique profile among similar events in Europe. It was envisaged and designed as a venue for dialogue that will contribute to the development of a security community in the Balkan region and provide a meaningful contribution to the ongoing European and global security discussion. On the other hand, BSF intended to create a viable national, regional and international network of stakeholders who will continue to engage in regular discussions and consultations on various open issues.
The determination of the three founding organizations was to test this new initiative in 2011, when the first edition of the BSF was held in the Army Hall. From that point on the BSF grew to become one of the most engaging regional event aimed at security dialogue and a well recognized venue to meet “from Istanbul to Vienna”. This year we celebrate our first decade of work.
What really makes the Belgrade Security Forum stand out?
The BSF was initiated and is hosted by three civil society organizations – the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy and the European Movement in Serbia – which allows for independent and original opinions . We have been finding our own way from day one; Serbian state understands the importance of BSF, but does not support it financially or in terms of logistics. This guarantees a high level of autonomy in program creation and choice of speakers, reflected in our program.
From the start part of our program was the BSF Academic Event, bringing together young academics, researchers and practitioners of security policy helping them engage with decision-makers and policy-planners. It enriches the debate and consequently feeds policies with much-needed theoretical insights, as well as new ideas. Testament to Academic Event’s popularity is that in 2020 alone, annual Call for Papers was answered by over 40 academics.
We aimed to include our region – the Western Balkans and wider Southeast Europe – in this worldwide debate and at the same time help “the world” – especially Europe – to better understand what is really taking place here. BSF mission is enabling, as much as it is possible, Western Balkans’ “actorness” in global debates while seeking the greater, common interest instead of particular ones. BSF is there to make us as a region much more reflective about ourselves and the world. and at the same time to help send out a very clear message that it is important to include this region in the global debate about our common future.
The BSF is giving floor to women experts and practitioners to actively participate and contribute in the fields traditionally dominated by men. Every year at least one panel or session is dedicated to women’s role, position and views in security sector. When we began, one third of our speakers were women; as of 2019, we stand at 43%. No manels policy is strictly in place to stimulate more women experts to participate, which is particularly effective within the scope of the BSF Academic Event.
Addressing and including as many students as possible through establishing cooperation with the faculties offering courses in foreign affairs and security policy. It is important to open the Forum for generations to come and to make them a part of debate, to both inspire them and allow them to be proactive and motivated to stay and fight for better future for not only Serbia, but the entire region.