Today, the President of the Republic of Srpska Željka Cvijanović participated in the work of the central international panel, the panel that opened the 16th Salzburg Europe Summit.
Prominent representatives of Austrian and European politics, economy and science are participating in the Summit, and the topic of this year’s conference is “Europe – Solidarity and Peace”.
The Salzburg Europe Summit is traditionally organised by the Institute of the Regions of Europe, and this year the central theme is the coronavirus pandemic, i.e. its consequences in the social, political and economic context.
The topic of the first central panel, the topic that opened the Summit, was titled “Europe, Corona and Democracy: Dangers and Chances”. EU and Constitutional Affairs Minister in the Government of Austria Karoline Edtstadler, Minister of Justice in the Government of Hungary Judit Varga and Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council Majlinda Bregu, who joined the discussion live via video link, participated in the panel together with the President of the Republic of Srpska, while the Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Democracy Dubravka Šuica also addressed the audience.
While talking about the impact of the pandemic on democratic processes and the issue of solidarity between the European countries, which was questioned by many during the crisis caused by the pandemic, the President Cvijanović pointed out that the coronavirus pandemic, especially in its first phase, pointed to certain weaknesses in the functioning of the European Union and, in particular, the lack of necessary solidarity between its members. The President also expressed the belief that the Union, after the initial shock and disorientation, will emerge from this crisis stronger and more efficient.
“For those of us who are strongly interested in events within the European Union and who aspire to the membership in this organisation, the individualism of member states and the lack of solidarity at the beginning of the pandemic was surprising, but the situation has significantly improved over time”, said the President of the Republic.
While addressing the participants of the Summit, the President Cvijanović stressed that she was satisfied with the way in which the institutions of the Republic of Srpska faced the challenges of the pandemic, especially pointing out the fact that all processes essential for the lives of citizens, regardless of difficult circumstances, were successfully implemented. The President expressed gratitude to the European Union, which provided significant support and assistance to the countries of the Western Balkans in combating the epidemiological crisis.
As a particularly demanding task for all actors at the global level, the President Cvijanović pointed out the economic revitalisation, economic recovery and preservation of jobs, particularly in sectors that are based on direct contact and which are, therefore, most strongly affected by the pandemic.
The interlocutors also discussed the role of a strong regional policy in overcoming the challenges posed by the pandemic, emphasising that decentralisation and the principle of subsidiarity can significantly contribute to overcoming the crisis, and regional dialogue and cross-border cooperation can restore shaken trust between European countries.
It was jointly assessed that economic recovery and protection of the population health, while preserving the dynamics of social life, is a priority for all countries in Europe, and that solidarity, support and understanding are necessary to maintain confidence in democratic processes and to adequately respond to pandemic challenges.
The honorary patrons of the Salzburg Europe Summit are the President of the Republic of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen and Chancellor of the Republic of Austria Sebastian Kurz, who addressed the audience with a video message at the opening of the first panel.
In addition to participating in the panel, during the first day of the Summit, the President Cvijanović met with the EU and Constitutional Affairs Minister in the Government of Austria Karolina Edtstadler and the President and Founder of the Institute of European Regions and Special Adviser to Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner for Budget and EU Administration Franz Schausberger.