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World Economic Forum: Friends and Allies Descend on Davos

After lying dormant due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Economic Forum is in full swing again. This past Monday, May 23rd, its yearly summit kicked off in Davos, Switzerland. During a 4-day marathon, ‘experts’ of various kinds will cover a host of issues, ranging from the war in Ukraine, pandemic response, climate change, and food security.

The WEF’s gathering of political, business, and media leaders from across the globe has attracted considerable attention over the years. While some have internalized its company line as being a benevolent non-profit organization, guided by the lofty ambition to “reset” the world, thereby solving humankind’s crises, others take a more skeptical attitude, looking askance at its anti-democratic impulses. To them, it is little more than the managerial class’ playground, where a future to their liking alone is shaped.

Topping the agenda is the enduring conflict in Ukraine. On Monday, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy made his speech by video from the capital of Kyiv, where he weightily remarked that history “is at a turning point” and that “this is really the moment when it is decided whether brute force will rule the world.” He furthermore called for sanctions on Russia to be “maximum,” so that it “and every other potential aggressor who wants to wage a brutal war against its neighbor clearly knows the immediate consequences of their actions.” This would include a full oil embargo, the blockage of all Russian banks, termination of all trade, withdrawal of any and all foreign businesses from the country, as well as cutting ties with its IT industry.

Mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko, who had come to Davos in person, emphasized that “everyone of you have to understand: We are defending you, personally … We are fighting, actually, for every one of you and everyone has to understand that.”

Unsurprisingly, any Russian presence (state or private) was unwelcome in the Swiss Alps. Under normal circumstances, Russia would have its own “house” where it showcases business leaders and investors. This year it has been transformed by Ukrainian artists into a “Russian War Crimes House,” where photography capturing the country’s atrocities is on display. Russia has denied allegations of having committed war crimes during the conflict.

Over the next few days, other leaders such as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will address the meeting.

Tristan Vanheuckelom writes on film, literature, and comics for various Dutch publications. He is an avid student of history, political theory, and religion, and is a News Writer at The European Conservative.

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