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World leaders bid Davos farewell

The World Economic Forum summit in the Swiss resort of Davos has ended after five often frenetic days of meetings and speeches. The official highlight was a speech by President Clinton (pictured).

This content was published on February 1, 2000 - 12:23

The World Economic Forum summit in the Swiss resort of Davos has ended after five often frenetic days of meetings and speeches. The official highlight was a speech by President Clinton (pictured).

But most of the action took place on the sidelines, with protesters slamming globalisation, and diplomats discussing everything from trade to peace in the Middle East.

The Swiss president, Adolf Ogi, opened the 30th annual summit last Thursday, when he called on political and business leaders to make sure globalisation "proceeds in a responsible manner".

His words were to set the tone for the rest of summit, which saw political and business leaders lining up to contribute to a meeting dubbed: "New beginnings: Making a Difference".

The summit only got into its stride on Saturday when the star attraction - President Clinton - arrived with more than 1,000 security personnel in his wake.

Clinton's address - an unabashed endorsement of globalisation - offered no surprises, but he nevertheless dominated the summit, eclipsing even business heavyweights like Bill Gates and George Soros.

He spoke of how globalisation offered the best chance of a peaceful and prosperous future: "Fifty years of experience shows that greater economic integration and political cooperation are positive forces". But Clinton qualified that by saying: "Those who believe globalisation is only about market economics are wrong, too".

His words proved anathema to a group of 1,300 anti-globalisation activists who held an illegal demonstration to coincide with Clinton's visit.

They were protesting against their lack of representation at what they said was a meeting which would affect the future of every person on this planet.

Little of substance was decided at Davos - at least in public. Despite many speeches describing the sufferings of the poor and the need for social justice, no clear decisions or policies seemed to emerge.

Davos is mainly an economic summit, but there were also a host of political meetings among world leaders, including talks on the Middle East peace process.

Switzerland's federal ministers also held several informal meetings with their counterparts from across the world, including one with President Clinton. Other meetings were held with an Iranian delegation, as well as the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat.

By Tom O'Brien

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