From 12 to 14 March in Zrenjanin, we hosted the first event of the 2021 edition of BFPE’s Annual Seminar.

The issue at hand with a new group of 28 attendees were social and economic challenges in Serbia, the region and the European Union until 2030, with a focus on the current economic and health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendees had the opportunity to acquire new and improve existing knowledge from lectures presented by top experts in their fields.

On the first day, after introductory speeches by Sonja Licht, President of the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, and Tomi Huhtanen, Executive Director of the Wilfried Martens Center for European Studies, Tibor Varadi, Professor Emeritus at the Central European University, gave an introductory lecture on human rights – what their importance was, and what is it today. Following Professor Varadi, Srdjan Bogosavljevic held a presentation on public opinion and the socio-political context in Serbia 2021.

The second day began with a presentation by Sam Fabrizi, ambassador and head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Serbia, explaining the role played by the European Union in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Brankica Jankovic, Commissioner for the Protection of Gender Equality, and Natasa Vuckovic, Executive Director of the Foundation Center for Democracy, spoke on the position of women in times of crisis and gender equality. The remaining two lectures on the second day of the seminar were related to culture as an aspect of development, lectured by Professor Milena Dragicevic Sesic from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts and Challenges and “Perspectives for Serbia and the Region in the Field of Social Policy during the COVID-19 Pandemic” lectured by Gordana Matkovic, Program Director of the Center for Social Policy.

On the third and last day of the first event of the Annual Seminar, attendees gained new knowledge about the future of public health, at a lecture given by Professor Vesna Bjegovic Mikanovic from the Faculty of Medicine, University in Belgrade and Dragoslav Popovic, UNICEF Public Health Consultant. Finally, two well known journalists, Zoran Stanojevic from the Radio Television of Serbia and Zaklina Tatalovic from the N1 television engaged in a discussion on the role media play in times of crisis and how to fight against the spread of the “disinformation virus”.