[Read more session reports and live updates from the 2nd Western Balkan Digital Summit]
Mr Jovan Kurbalija (Executive Director, Secretariat of the High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, United Nations (ex officio)) gave a keynote speech on digital diplomacy with a regional perspective.
In his opening remarks, Kurbalija gave a brief overview of the panel’s historical background as well as the work that it has conducted so far. He underscored that one of the underlying questions encountered was to what extent can technology challenge the core values of society, social cohesion and social stability. He added that societies nowadays have a tendency to go back to their philosophical, religious and societal roots and that the answers to the digital issues we are encountering today could be traced back to the deep roots of humanity.
Consequently, even though the debate on digital issues might sound technical, it is of utmost relevance for all segments of society. Governments and businesses are all in search for answers on the impact of technology on society. Businesses are trying to create certainty for the future of digital growth which is to an extent illustrated by recent appeals made by tech giants like Facebook and Microsoft to regulate the digital space.
The speaker also noted that there is an absence of Western Balkan economies in discussions on digital matters. They are lagging behind with regards to digital diplomacy and representation in tech hubs like the Silicon Valley. Consequently, there is a need for a new type of diplomacy that includes diplomats and business people alike. He highlighted that the region has the potential to find inner strength and that it should be counter-intuitive. To this end, it should engage in regional initiatives to discuss digital issues given that the WB6 will have to face this question sooner or later but also to adapt the digital context to local specificities rather than simply mimicking what others are doing
By Nataša Perucica