The inaugural Balkans & Black Sea Cooperation Forum opens on Thursday in Serres, central Macedonia, with the goal of serving as a think tank to outline the current state of affairs, take a look at political indicators and navigate toward growth and cooperation during this crucial period for the region in terms of culture, the economy and other areas.
Taking place under the banner “A World of History – A World of Opportunities” and billed as “the biggest ever conference in the region,” the forum is aimed at highlighting cross-border cooperation, strengthening business opportunities and promoting sustainable development in and between the states of the Balkans and Black Sea area.
As Siwarde Sap, one of the Forum’s Steering Committee members, told Kathimerini English Edition last month, the event aims to evolve into “the Davos of this region,” constituting a new approach that focuses on different business sectors and countries working together. Cultural tourism will be among the many subjects to be discussed and analyzed.
After all, the Forum comes at a time when the region appears to be key to Chinese plans for increased trade and exchanges with Europe, as one of the guest speakers, Frans Paul van der Putten, a senior research fellow at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael, tells Kathimerini.
Another guest speaker, Theodoros Tsakiris, assistant professor of energy policy and geopolitics at the University of Nicosia, adds that “the entire initiative is an exemplary case of cooperation between public institutions and private entrepreneurship that is particularly focused on highlighting the region’s value not only from a political or economic point of view, but also from a cultural one that is quite fascinating.”
They are just two of the 42 international speakers, including ministers, CEOs and others, who will be shaping the entrepreneurial near-future of the Balkans and Black Sea region, advancing its geopolitical importance, recognizing challenges and identifying opportunities for untapped business and trade.
Set to take place in a different country of the region each year, the 2017 Forum is organized by the Geo Routes Cultural Institute and the Regional Unit of Serres, with the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) as the official partner and the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR), the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) and the European Banking Federation (EBF) as strategic partners.