The atmosphere of acute desperation that dominated the last five WEF Davos summits has cleared this year. But while the thunderstorm has moved on, the dark clouds have not yet lifted from this picturesque Alpine resort.
For while there is no more financial crash to be contended with, no imminent EU break-up to be contemplated or raging civil war across North Africa to be observed, it has been soberly noted that a number of deep divisions and problems remain unsolved.
Swiss President (and Foreign Minister) Didier Burkhalter pointed out in his opening address that some mountains still need moving, including continuing conflict in Syria, long-term environmental threats and the “cancer” of youth unemployment.
On the first full day of proceedings on Wednesday, UBS Chairman Axel Weber warned delegates not to get too excited about brightening economic prospects in Europe. “Things feel better in Europe. They feel better than they are. Europe is not yet back.”
Outside of Davos, the peace talks being held in Montreux between Syrian government officials and opposition forces descended into a slanging match that does not bode well for a peaceful solution.
And Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told journalists in Davos that his country’s relations with China mirrored those of Britain and Germany in 1914.
So, on the centenary of the “horrors” of the First World War, Burkhalter told WEF delegates that a collective effort was needed to ensure “brighter prospects” for the world.
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