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BSF 2020



This year’s iteration of the Belgrade Security Forum will be held throughout the month of October 2020, as a series of online events. Therefore, the 10th month of 2020 will be dedicated to the 10th edition of BSF.  

We mark the first decade of our joint endeavor by saying “No Trust – No Peace”; one message we hope will resonate in times to come. More than 20 online panels, sessions, discussions and special events will be organized as a part of celebratory 10th Belgrade Security Forum.

This year, BSF is going online. Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way of living for many around the globe. Consequences of the current pandemic have already been affecting all of us and will affect for considerable future. For the past 9 iterations, BSF was successful in bringing together representatives from governments, civil society and international organizations, becoming one of the most important networking places in the region. We would like to answer to the rising challenge with another gathering, this time online in order to assure safety and health measures for our speakers and participants. 

In this time of rising uncertainty, dialogue and debate will be a necessary tool in finding the solutions for moving forward

In the pandemic, democracy was among the first to be hit. The objective need to implement social distancing autocrats in many countries saw as an open invitation to infringe on the rights and freedoms of citizens. As we stayed at home, worried or what is to come, populists and extremists of all affiliations raised their voices, offering conspiracy theories instead of science.

The title under which 10th BSF will take place thus resembled a forecast. Never we asked for democratic leadership so much, and questioned the state of that leadership then during this pandemic.

Our lives are dependent on technology more than ever. End while we are depending on it, voices that are questioning the further developments and usages of it have been lauder than ever. While taking stock, we will examine the trust in technology and how is it affecting the global developments.

In international relations, lack of trust and solidarity was manifested as a crisis of multilateralism, although it was clear that no state could fight the outbreak alone. While single most important task became “flattening the curve”, the geopolitical game continued in the background.

With the rise of the pandemic, life did not stop. Open issues with which we entered 2020 are still there.

We learned or are still learning just how resilient our societies are to the challenges that are not new, but as equally important if not more. Questions of populism, far-right nationalism have been burdening the global society and therefore will be addressed during 10th Belgrade Security Forum.

Trust, solidarity, European perspective, place in the global order, peace are the topics that are more important than ever in the Western Balkans; Belgrade-Pristina dialogue; growing tensions and, unfortunately, noticeable lack of cooperation in the region to combat the effects of the pandemic. COVID-19 has made visible some new ones, which we have foreseen in the past years – the relationship between technology and privacy; anti-EU narrative; solidarity, that is, caring for migrants and those who on the margins of our society yet were “forgotten” amidst the response.


Belgrade Security Forum will gather the decision makers, policy makers, representatives of international institutions, national governments, academia, international experts, media, think tank representatives. They will be asked to defend democracy with us, by participating in the discussions that will be held; support the freedom of opinion; show that we care about this region of ours; express solidarity and faith in the European future of the Western Balkans.


Day 1
06 Oct 2020
Day 2
14 Oct 2020
Day 3
20 Oct 2020
Day 4
21 Oct 2020
Day 5
22 Oct 2020
Day 6
27 Oct 2020

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...
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Sonja Licht
Igor Bandović
Zvezdana Kovač
Moderator: Marko Savković

BSF Discussion: What is at stake in the Eastern Mediterranean?

Discussion points: What is at stake in the Eastern Mediterranean? How can one alleviate Cyprus/Turkey’s concerns? Is military escalation possible? What role for the EU? Will it miss this chance...
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Nikos Tsafos
James Ker-Lindsay
Isabelle Ioannides
Moderator: Milan Krstić

BSF Discussion: Saving Democracy: Cooperation and Solidarity in the Aftermath of the Pandemic

Discussion points: How well has the international system weathered the pandemic? Who fared better: autocracies, or democracies? Will it matter in the end? Which lessons should the EU draw from...
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Ivan Krastev
Thomas Carothers
Moderator: Ulrike Guérot

Academic Keynote Speech: The Silence of the Systems: Informal Networks, Hidden Practices and Invisible Domination – Evidence from the Global Informality Project (In partnership With OSCE Mission to Serbia)

Abstract: This talk will take you on a journey of discovery, delving into the open secrets, unwritten rules and hidden practices in the workings of political systems. The paradox, or...
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Alena Ledeneva

Academic Panel 1: Which Theory Does Best Capture State Capture? (In partnership With OSCE Mission to Serbia)

Abstracts: Title: Whitewashing State Capture The ways in which governments communicate about particular cases of abuse of power and public resources can both legitimize them and encourage similar practices in...
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Andrea L. Capussela
Iurij Zarubin
Discussant: Miloš Resimić
Moderator: Dušan Pavlović


Abstracts: Promoting Stability and Facilitating State Capture This paper argues that the EU facilitated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia – though presented as the primary means by which both would...
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Donika Emini
Christopher Jackson
Damir Kapidžić
Discussant: Marko Žilović
Moderator: Sonja Stojanović Gajić

Academic Panel 3: State Capture and Security In Serbia (In partnership With OSCE Mission to Serbia)

Abstracts: State Capture of and by Security Services in Serbia Two decades after the overthrow of autocratic regime of Slobodan Milosevic security services are not only far from being reformed...
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Predrag Petrović
Tena Prelec
Saša Đorđević
Discussant: Vladimir Đorđević
Moderator: Karsten Friis

Partner Session: Anti-Western Narratives in the Western Balkans: Threat to Euro-Atlantic Integration? (in Partnership with the European Western Balkans)

Discussion points: What are the main sources of anti-Western narratives in the Western Balkans and what is their purpose? How much damage can the anti-Western narratives do to Euro-Atlantic integration...
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Jasna Jelišić
Nikola Burazer
Florian Bieber
Asya Metodieva
Moderator: Tena Prelec

Partner Session: The Impact of Covid-19 on Organized Crime (in partnership with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Serbia, part of the MATRA program of the Dutch Ministry for Foreign Affairs)

Discussion points:  In what way is the Covid-19 pandemic changing how organized crime groups operate and the threat they pose to our societies? How did organized crime groups respond to...
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Mark Shaw
Angela Me
Keith Ditcham
Sascha Strupp
Giuseppe Sorrenti
Moderator: Bojan Elek

Panel 1: The Depopulation Challenge: Shaping the Future Social, Political and Economic Landscape (in Partnership with UNDP and UNFPA)

Discussion points: What kinds of demographic futures can we expect in the region, Europe, and globally? How does demographic change affect votes, political culture, and priorities? Will population decline threaten...
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Darrell Bricker
Alanna Armitage
Ivo Belet
Tim Judah
Moderator: Mirjana Spoljaric Egger

Panel 2: Will the Pandemic Reshape or Accelerate History?

Discussion points: Are we witnessing the change in the world order and in what way? Who should be new leaders in the post-pandemic world? Did the pandemic bring more solidarity...
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Mikuláš Dzurinda
Bruno Maçães
Manuel Muñiz
Valerie Niquet
Joonseok Yang
Moderator: Maaike Okano-Heijmans

BSF In Conversation: Mainstreaming Right-Wing Extremism

Discussion points: What are the most important factors that contributed to the mainstreaming of far-right, and how they can be counteracted? Can bans and prohibitions – such as the legal...
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Sasha Havliček
Željko Jovanović
Moderator: Federico Ottavio Reho

Panel 3: Western Balkans, Emerging from the New Disorder (in Partnership with the Embassy of the Netherlands)

Discussion points: What are the main security concerns of the “illiberal equilibrium” in the region? Is the Balkan stabilocracy finally losing its shine? Is the future of Europe debate to...
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Olivér Várhelyi
Tomáš Petříček
Majlinda Bregu
Susanne Schütz
Robert de Groot
Moderator: Valerie Hopkins

Special Event of The Balkan Dialogues Initiative: Belgrade-Pristina: No Trust, No Solution (In partnership with Balkan Trust for Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Royal Norwegian Embassy)

The Balkan Dialogues initiative, hosted by the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence and the East West Institute, welcomes President Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak and...
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Aleksandar Vučić
Avdullah Hoti
Miroslav Lajčák
Ryan Tully
Moderator: Cameron Munter

BSF Discussion: The World after the US Elections

Discussion points: Say Biden wins. What would be his first foreign policy priority? Trump emerges victorious. Which policies of his Administration are pursued in 2021? Is the trans-Atlantic alliance destined...
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Karen Donfried
Ivana Stradner
Constantine Arvanitopoulos
Moderator: Damir Marušić

BSF Address: Populism in the 2020s: Beyond the Populist Zeitgeist

Discussion points: Is there any guilt among us for the rise of populism? How do we proceed from here – where can we find members of new, progressive political elites...
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Cas Mudde
Moderator: Marko Savković

Partner Session: Defence cooperation beyond the alliance borders: What can the Balkans learn from Nordic countries?

Discussion points: What are the drivers of regional defence cooperation? How can the countries attain the necessary level of trust and confidence? What are the key challenges to defence cooperation...
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Lt Col Egil Daltveit
Karsten Friis
Kenan Dautović
Moderator: Marija Ignjatijević

Partner Session: Role of values in politics-oriented media narratives: lessons for Western Balkans (in Partnership with the Warsaw Security Forum and with the support of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland)

Discussion points: What is the role of values in presenting the news? What is the link between the freedom of media and their ability to project narratives that promote the...
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Marija Ristić
Terry Martin
Łukasz Pawłowski
Moderator: Bartłomiej Kot

Partner Session: Trust as a Social Capital – UNDP Perspective

Discussion points: How do inclusive and transparent governance systems contribute to building trust in a society? What are the linkages between social cohesion and resilience to crises? What role can...
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Steliana Nedera
Aida Daguda
Svetlana Stefanović
Ajša Hadžibegović
Moderator: Alma Mirvić

Partner Session: Technology, Trust and Legitimacy: An Uneasy Relationship (in Partnership with the UNDP)

Discussion points: Balancing modernity and humanity: can we move forward and keep innovating, while also preserving and extending trust? Who can we trust in 2020? How to place humans (and...
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Niniane Paeffgen
Jovan Kurbalija
Hannes Grassegger
Marija Gavrilov
Moderator: Slobodan Marković

Special Event: Future of Europe and the Western Balkans (in Partnership with the European Fund for the Balkans)

Discussion points:     Are the Western Balkans partners put on hold until the Union finishes the future of Europe process? What reforms should the EU undertake in order to be...
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Srđan Majstorović
Simonida Kacarska
Reinhard Priebe
Nedim Hogić
Moderator: Aleksandra Tomanić

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