Sonja Licht, president of the Belgrade Fund for Political Excelence and a BSF Steering Committee Member, gave an interview for the Robert Bosch Foundation’s Magazine Peace #21.
For years, the Belgrade Security Forum (BSF) has gathered experts and prominent players from the worlds of politics and business – and in many cases, brought together people that otherwise would not speak with each other. That accomplishment is down to Sonja Licht, organizer of the BSFand former Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy.
Why is it so important, particularly in the Balkans, to bring people from different sides – opposition politicians, former wartime enemies, and nationalist antagonists – together in one place?
Sonja Licht: The need for dialogue in the Balkans remains high. With the Belgrade Security Forum (BSF) in 2011, we created a forum where people could engage in dialogue with each other, both within the region and from around the world and, in particular, Europe. It was important to us to bring the debate about burning questions of international politics and security to us here in Serbia, and thereby bring people – even adversaries – together. At the BSF, it’s an encounter of ideas, not people. That makes a difference. At our forum, everyone is welcome and treated with respect, as long as they are prepared to make the world a better place for all of us. Our participants take these expectations very seriously, which is why – even between adversaries – we have a very fruitful exchange on a wide variety of subjects without emotions getting out of hand and overpowering the rational. One of our most important successes was initiating a continuous dialogue between various actors concerning relations between Kosovo and Serbia. The BSF has never taken sides on the question of the status of Kosovo; We never pre-judge people or their positions. On the contrary we demand respect for all sides and arguments. Over the past five years, many extraordinary and dedicated people from around the world, from the fields of politics, science, expert committees, civil society, and the media, have accepted the BSF’s invitation to come to Belgrade. We’re very proud of that. Many of them come back to the forum time and again, accompanied by completely different groups, and not only listen very attentively to others, but also take part in the lively and very stimulating discussions. For many people, the BSF has meanwhile become a veritable intellectual and political festival
Read the full article here (pg. 14).