In the Spotlight: Milocer Economic Forum 2011 Prepared by: Ms. Sandra Tinaj, Manager of the University of Donja Gorica (UDG) As in each and every year, prior to this one, the 2011 “Milocer Development Forum” was exceptional. It started on September 12th, when Ph.D. Professor Veselin Vukotic, Rector at UDG, and President of the Governing Board of the Montenegrin Association of Economists, stated in his opening remarks that the forum did not intend to provide solutions to the current challenges that are faced by this region, but rather aimed to provide an environment in which experts from various fields could exchange ideas, observe challenges from various perspectives, and promote a European set of values that focused on openness and freedom, along with a culture of dialogue, entrepreneurship and creativity. From September 12th to 14th 2011, the forum attracted around 500 participants which included nine panels, 63 panelists and moderators, and three lectures which were given by professors from Slovenia, Italy and Austria. Five companies and several other institutions also had the opportunity to give presentations.
“The Balkans and the EU”
When referring to experts, it is important to point out that the organizers did a great job by attracting not only regional delegates, but also international ones. Therefore, visitors who attended the 2011 “Milocer Development Forum” had the chance to listen to experts from Italy, Austria, the United States, Canada and the Middle East in addition to regional experts living and working within the area of the former Yugoslavia. All of them came together with one objective: to share ideas about “The Balkans and the EU”, which was the main topic of the forum.
Throughout the three days of the forum, these nine panels generated an infinite number of ideas and conclusions, as for exemple: observations made about the Montenegrin accession process viewed through a prism of unemployment, perceptions of the EU as a system of values, viewing a knowledge based society within the EU as an empty phrase, and looking at the role of companies as reinvesting profits into further production.
As Professor Vukotić stated, the forum itself was organized on the principles of cutting-edge organizations and on similar meetings in other places in the World and this was publicly confirmed by professors and businessmen of international standing. ‘Risky’ rules were also promoted, such as “the panel starts and ends with no delays” and “discussions last for up to 7 minutes”. These rules introduced a level of seriousness and elegance to the forum, and with this came a degree of vividness and interactivity. The forum was well covered by media from Montenegro and from surrounding countries. The topics presented at the Forum will be published in international economic magazine published in Montenegro (in English). Magazine is called “Entrepreneurial Economy” (volume XVII), and it’s distributed by UDG.
Agenda At the very beginning of the forum, the organizers introduced a special award, a plaque and cash, for any individual who, at the end of the forum on September 14th, could state that he or she had neither heard, nor learned anything new. No one applied. A nine-point agenda was introduced to give visitors an insight into various aspects of the pre-accession process to the EU, to the future of the EU and to a vision of Montenegro within the EU. The agenda included the following panel discussions: 1. Agriculture, tourism and economic development 2. Ecology and development 3. Entrepreneurship and entreprenurial ideas (student round table meeting) 4. Population and development 5. Training and development 6. Investment funds 7. The capital market in Montenegro 8. What is next on the path to the EU? – a dialogue with the Montenegrin Prime Minister, Mr. Igor Lukšić 9. Where does the EU lead us? – Jože Menciger
One of the forum panelists observed the Montenegrin accession process through a prism of unemployment. Professor Vukotić stated that unemployment was becoming a more and more dominant problem not just in Montenegro, but in the West in general, especially in the lives of people between the ages of 16 and 24. He also said that simply the fact of joining the EU would not solve this problem. However, it was an undisputed fact that the European market creates opportunities for new projets, new companies and thus new jobs. The emphasis was on an economic approach to solving the unemployment problem, primarly through eliminating barriers to business, by increasing economic freedom, and, to a lesser exent, through the redistribution and state protection of so-called national smart projects. He also said that Europe, and also the Montenegrin accession process to the EU, should be perceived as the adoption of a certain system of values and way of thinking, as a market for ideas. Discussions about the role of a company, along with the way capitalism is viewed in this part of the world, ended with the conclusion that the current perception of a company’s role, to maximize profit, was incomplete and misleading. While delivering his ideas to the audience, Professor Jože Menciger from the Faculty of Economics, Ljubljana, Slovenia, mentioned one interesting fact. He said that the concept of creating a knowledge based society, as stated in Lisabon’s strategy, 2000 - 2005, was wrong and was actually only an “empty phrase”. Professor Menciger believed that this was the case because, “Knowledge is more mobile than capital.” Thus, Europe neither produces knowledge or products today, but China does, however, because of mobility. In all, bearing in mind the history of the “Milocer Development Forum”, the number of panelists and visitors who attended, coupled with the level of their intellectual capacity, it is not surprising that the award that was offered at the start of the conference was not actually given. That is the reason why this forum has been successfully realized for the 16th time in a row.