WEF container for shopping list between weapons and climate

From Ukraine, which is in dire need of tanks, to a petition by climate activists, the WEF will become a shopping list this year. Switzerland, which tries to prioritize the arms industry over neutrality, will not be able to avoid this situation.

During the week, Friday’s Ramstein meeting of Western defense ministers will be the subject of many discussions in Davos (GR). Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, repeating his call to buy arms almost every day, will highlight the urgency of the situation in the face of a war that “does not take a positive turn” with a video.

It’s about neutrality

Several countries have been mistreated in the context of these arms transfers. German tanks were expected for months, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz did not respond at Graubünden station. The World Economic Forum (WEF) again caused great concern for many Ukrainians.

Worse, Mr. Scholz has tempered expectations by saying that Germany will not hand over its tanks unless other powers do. The highest calls will be from Ukraine’s neighbors.

For its part, Switzerland will be subject to a new round of German and Spanish inquiries so that its equipment can be re-exported. Criticisms will also come from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Since the start of the war, Switzerland has often brought everyone back to the ropes by reiterating the limitations of the law of neutrality. The president of the confederation, Alain Berset, has been less formal this week with possible reprimands on the question.

Not surprising with Thunberg

Several young climate activists came to Davos with a petition demanding multinational companies stop using non-renewable energies. In an already well-established scene, the focus is mainly on Greta Thunberg.

Not surprisingly, the Swede reiterated his grievances against WEF participants, whom he accuses of fueling a worsening climate.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also came with demands. In a very harsh tone, he wished that the oil company executives of the 1970s, who knew that non-renewable energies were harmful, would pay for their “big lies”.

There won’t be many very specific announcements during WEF. Among the exceptions, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will unveil upcoming European regulation for the zero-emissions industry.

Small steps for Switzerland

For Switzerland, the meeting at the Graubünden station will not only mean pressure on the war in Ukraine. Despite the absence of a meeting between Mr. Berset and Ms. von der Leyen, he is not leaving the European file empty-handed.

High-level dialogue is often easier with member states than with Brussels. For the first time, Sweden’s EU presidency invited Switzerland to an informal meeting of foreign and defense ministers in May.

For his part, Alain Berset believes that the informal dialogue with the chairman of the European Commission was “very good”. He emphasized that the decisions on the relations between Switzerland and the EU were made “between Bern and Brussels” and not in Davos.

More broadly, at Davos, Switzerland conveyed to some its desire to host the secretariat of the Coalition Against Plastic Pollution in Geneva.

High volatility

The WEF was attuned to recent international uncertainties, from the war in Ukraine to the inflation and energy crisis. Some leaders, like South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, a symbol of this volatility, will give up at the last minute to travel to solve problems in their country.

But thousands of participants will still come to the Graubünden resort this year. With an important safety device.


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