On 26 October, a round table discussion „Main Challenges for Small States in Contemporary International Relations – Small States and International Economic Relations“ took place in Zagreb, organized by the Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO) and supported by Hanns Seidel Stiftung Zagreb.

The conference started with a welcome address by Aleksandra Markić Boban, Head of Project Office, Hanns Seidel Foundation Zagreb, and Dr. Sandro Knezović, Institute for Development and International Relations. The first panel addressed the challenges of Croatia in international economic relations, while the second panel focused on experience of neighbours.

In the latter panel, invited experts from the field of international politics and business discussed the political and economic challenges of small states in international relations and the position and perspectives of Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and Portugal. They addressed their geopolitical position, coordination of state institutions and underdeveloped diplomatic networks at the European and global level, which were identified as key challenges of Croatia. Speakers agreed that globalization impacts relations immensely and that the consequences of the financial crisis still are present in the international relations of these countries. The EU and NATO should be the means and not the end-goals of the foreign policy of small countries in Europe.

Ivana Boštjančič Pulko of the Centre for European Perspective participated as a round table discussant and addressed the importance of the EU still being one of the leading economic and trading area of the world since the real power of the EU lies in its economy. Slovenian export industry presents the backbone of Slovenian economy and trade exchange between Slovenia and the EU amounts to almost 40 billion €, it is therefore important that the public opinion supports that strategic direction of the country but also remains open for trade exchange and investments from larger countries like Russia, China, the USA and others.