The BSF networking reception held traditionally at Bled’s Grand Hotel Toplice was addressed by Bled Mayor Janez Fajfar and Janez Škrabec, the head of engineering company Riko, a long-standing major partner of the forum.
Mr Fajfar welcomed the guests with a recap of the hotel’s history, dating back to 1931, and of tourism in Bled, started in 1854 by a Swiss man “who sold air, water and sunshine” to wealthy people”, inspiring locals to start developing the resort and provide a thousand beds by 1900. Fajfar concluded by calling on the audience to “try to talk to each other and try to do something good if you can for the people who have trusted you”.
Mr Škrabec spoke about the reasons for him supporting the forum for so many years, saying Slovenia still had politicians who were striving for the right things, for democracy, for multiculturalism, multilateralism and for more Europe as a place with a high quality of life that needs to be preserved.
While Slovenian politicians cannot resort to hard power, there is also the soft power approach and “I believe BSF contributes a lot to Slovenia in this respect”. “Through the years it is perhaps turning into a second Davos in Europe,” Škrabec said, while adding politics was a too serious affair to be left only to politicians. “They gave us an opportunity to be part of this forum, to share our vision and also fight for the things mentioned before.”
The second reason is that Škrabec is also a diplomat, being the honorary consul of Morocco and Belarus. He pointed out he was hosting in Bled the members of the World Federation of Consuls, including its president Aykut Eken.