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Germany’s Scholz and NATO’s Stoltenberg to attend Davos WEF meeting

The WEF annual meeting in Davos starts on Sunday after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will be among the leaders at the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, which starts on Sunday after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over 50 heads of state and government are due to attend the face-to-face gathering in the resort in eastern Switzerland from May 22-26. In total, 2,500 movers and shakers from politics, business and civil society are expected – smaller than some past meetings.

“The annual meeting is the first summit that brings global leaders together in this new situation characterised by an emerging multipolar world as a result of the pandemic and war,” said WEF founder Klaus Schwab in a statement on Wednesday.

Topics on the agenda include the pandemic recovery, tackling climate change, the future for work, accelerating stakeholder capitalism, and harnessing new technologies.

Scholz, who is chairing the G7 this year, will be speaking for the first time in Davos as head of government. Stoltenberg, meanwhile, will attend as NATO considers the candidacies of Sweden and Finland at a time of high tensions with Moscow.

Russia will not be represented at this year’s summit, despite being a major supporter of the WEF’s activities in the past.

In response to the invasion of Ukraine in late February, the WEF froze all ties with Russian entities and announced it would not work with any sanctioned person or entity as Politico reportedExternal link in March. In February, WEF bosses put out a statementExternal link condemning “the aggression by Russia against Ukraine, the attacks and atrocities”.

Ukraine focus

Meanwhile, Ukraine will be strongly represented at the meeting. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, will be the first foreign leader to address the gathering on Monday from Kyiv. The mayor of the Ukrainian capital, Vitali Klitschko, is also expected to speak, as is the foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba.

A Ukrainian delegation, including members of the government, parliament, the business sector and civil society, are also due in Davos.

Other big names expected include the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, and the German Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, Robert Habeck.

Most of the Swiss Federal Council will be in attendance. President Ignazio Cassis will give the opening speech on Monday. But it is unclear whether he will meet von der Leyen or any other Brussels official to discuss Swiss-EU matters. Sources in Brussels had hinted that Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič, in charge of interinstitutional relations and foresight, would not travel to the WEF.

In December 2021, organisers postponedExternal link the annual WEF meeting for a second year in a row just before its traditional January slot, citing the difficulties of holding an in-person conference during the coronavirus pandemic.

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