Davos 54 in the shadow of three wars

Davos meeting focuses more on the worlds economic and commercial aspects and usually provides a comprehensive image of future trends in these fields. This is in the context that the European Union will strengthen its trade relations with the United States and emerging markets such as India and Turkey in the next decade so that the European Unions goods trade with America will grow by more than ۳۸ with India by ۶۶ with Turkey by ۲۳ and with China by ۱۹ until ۲۰۳۲.
16 January 2024
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Ali Beman Eghbali Zarch

Davos'[1] meeting focuses more on the world's economic and commercial aspects and usually provides a comprehensive image of future trends in these fields. This is in the context that the European Union will strengthen its trade relations with the United States and emerging markets such as India and Turkey in the next decade, so that the European Union's goods trade with America will grow by more than 38%, with India by 66%, with Turkey by 23%, and with China by 19% until 2032.

According to previous years, Davos pays special attention to international transformations and challenges. Meanwhile, the international arena is facing several big challenges in the third decade of the 21st century, mainly in the Eurasian area. In the meantime, the critical situation in Gaza, the war in Ukraine, and the uncertainty in the transformations in the South Caucasus are more important. In this situation, the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) will be held in the ski resort of Davos, Switzerland, in the most complex geopolitical context to date, where important international figures, including US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, French President Emmanuel Macron, and key Middle East leaders will participate in the January 15-19 forum. Negotiations to end the war in Gaza and Ukraine are on the agenda of the global elite.

Also, in the closed-door economic meeting, the challenging image of the global economy will be analyzed by the central banks, capitalists and business leaders present, with changes in interest rate policies and debt increases. Senior managers of the British bank Barclays and the Canadian life insurance company of Manulife Financial Corporation will chair this meeting. It seems that the Davos 2024 meeting will focus on finding a solution for wars instead of focusing on the economy, and in a sense, the agenda of the meeting is full of wars. In this regard, WEF President Børge Brende said that most of the focus of this year's meeting will be on high-level diplomatic talks on the war in the Middle East, Ukraine, and Africa, and we will make sure we bring the right people together to see how we can find solutions to this very challenging world. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will both attend the Davos meeting. Also, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and more than 40 foreign ministers will attend the Davos meeting. President Emmanuel Macron is expected to give a speech on France's role in the future of Europe. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will also speak at the forum.

The war in Ukraine, which featured prominently in the previous two meetings, is back at the top of the agenda, and Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to give another speech. It is not yet clear whether the Russian authorities will participate in this forum or not. China, a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, will also send Premier Li Qiang to the country. While WEF organizers have highlighted the presence of key leaders from the Global South, it is worth noting that non-aligned movement groups from Asian, African, and Latin American countries have largely remained observers of the war in Ukraine after Moscow's initial condemnation.

The transformations of the last few years show the weakness of global management and international order in preventing and finding solutions for important crises. The past years have shown us that the world is not resistant to threats, and geopolitical risks around the world have been exacerbated in recent years by Russia's war in Ukraine, Israel's war with the Hamas militia, and recent impacts related to shipping in the Red Sea.

The president of this forum, Børge Brende, announced on Tuesday that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will personally participate in the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos and on Sunday, on the eve of the start of the annual meeting of political, business, and financial world leaders in the Swiss Alps, a meeting on Ukraine will be held in Davos with the presence of security advisers and high-ranking officials of about 70 countries, which this will be the fourth meeting on the so-called peace formula presented by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. In this plan, the Ukrainian government intends to promote a peace that provides the withdrawal of all Russian forces from the occupied territories of Ukraine, including the Crimean Peninsula, along with guarantees about the future security of Ukraine. Of course, this conference mainly serves to maintain the cohesion of Ukraine's allies, and the most recent similar meeting was held in Malta in October. It is no secret that Ukraine and Europe are worried about the transformations of the war and the reduction of American support.

Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton wants to create a massive EU defense fund worth €100 billion to strengthen Europe's defense structure and deal with peripheral threats, especially Russia. He, who is also in charge of defense, is due to present the European Defense Investment Program (EDIP) on February 27. The program is designed to strengthen joint arms purchases and increase the EU's domestic production of arms and ammunition.

The start of the American and British attacks on Yemen promises the emergence of a new crisis in the first month of the new year, which, in a way, confirms the acceleration of crises' emergence together with the speed of the development of human science and technical knowledge and the distance from rationality and collective participation in global management.

In general, 2024 is an important election year, especially in Europe, America, Russia, and even Ukraine. Public opinion in large areas of the world is dissatisfied with the performance of political leaders and the United Nations in preventing crises and finding solutions to existing wars. It is not known whether the Davos meeting will be able to encourage voters to participate in the ballot box. The more important question is whether the 2024 meeting of the World Economic Forum, as the fifty-fourth Davos meeting, will be able to turn the slogan of this year's meeting of rebuilding trust into a practical and executive reality to some extent. Of course, the evidence of previous meetings and consultations two years after the occupation of Ukraine and three months after the crime in Gaza does not indicate hope and optimism.

Ali Bemaneqbali Zarch, a senior expert at the IPIS

(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)

[1] World Economic Forum (WEF)

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