Monday, 30th October 2017

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Davos turns into fortress ahead of World Economic Forum meet

Various government heads, including Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, Ashraf Ghani will attend the meeting

By PTI in Davos
  • Published 20.01.20, 11:29 AM
  • Updated 20.01.20, 11:29 AM
  • 3 mins read
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The logo of the WEF is seen behind soldiers of the Swiss Army on guard outside the congress center prior the 50th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, Sunday, Janjuary 19, 2020 AP

A restricted airspace and round-the-clock surveillance through radars, drones and fighter jets have made this Swiss ski resort town into a virtual fortress with all rich and powerful from across the world expected here to attend the WEF's 50th annual meeting.

While the summit will discuss ways to ensure a "cohesive and sustainable world", the presence of top world leaders including US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel means that the security has to be top-notch and the Swiss government, in coordination with the organisers, is not leaving any corner unattended by deploying up to 5,000 army men and scores of policemen and private security guards.

Beginning last week itself, the Air Force of Switzerland has stepped up surveillance of the airspace through radars, ready-to-use fighter jets and ground-based air defence to ensure security in the airspace above Davos.

As the rich and powerful from across the globe assemble this week in this Swiss ski resort town to discuss ways to ensure a 'cohesive and sustainable world', over 100 CEOs as also multiple Union ministers and chief ministers from India would also be present alongside filmstar Deepika Padukone, talking about mental health and other issues, and Sadhguru holding morning meditation sessions.

US President Donald Trump, Britain's Prince Charles, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Afghanistan's Ashraf Ghani and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan would be among the world leaders attending the five-day 50th annual meeting of WEF, beginning Monday.

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020, taking place on January 20-24, will focus on establishing stakeholder capitalism as a way of addressing the world's greatest challenges, from societal divisions created by income inequality and political polarization to the climate crisis we face today, the Geneva-based International organisation for public-private partnership has said.

The forum's first meeting in 1971 was established to further the idea put forward by Professor Schwab that business should serve all stakeholders - customers, employees, communities, as well as shareholders.

The event in Davos will be covered by some 500 journalists from across the world.

According to the Swiss government, the WEF meeting is one of the most important economic and socio-political events in the world, as underlined by the Swiss Federal Council, the government of the Canton of Graubunden and Davos Communal Council.

The government said hosting this forum for exchanging views and seeking solutions to world problems is in line with Switzerland's longstanding tradition of serving as a host country for international conferences and gatherings.

The fact that leading representatives from the worlds of business, politics, science and culture gather in Davos offers Switzerland the possibility to cultivate relations with a great many influential figures in a special setting.

A great many jobs in Davos depend on the economic benefits of conferences and other events, and the people of Davos have repeatedly expressed their support for hosting the WEF in a number of popular votes.

The additional costs to the public authorities for security at the WEF Annual Meeting 2020 are estimated to amount to around CHF 9 million, which would be split between the funding partners, including one-fourth by the WEF and the rest by the local and national administrations.

In the event of exceptional incidents such as terrorist attacks, assassination attempts, major threats or clear indications that such acts may be carried out, the federal government will meet 80 per cent of any additional costs, while the remaining 20 per cent will be met by the Canton of Graubunden and the WEF.

The WEF pays CHF 2.25 million of the annual security costs incurred by the Annual Meeting.

The deployment of the armed forces in support is funded through the government budget. In previous years, the deployment of the armed forces has cost around CHF 32 million per meeting.

In the financial year from July 2017 to June 2018, the WEF reported a turnover of CHF 326 million and a surplus of CHF 1.7 million, which is paid into its capital.

In 2017, the WEF annual meeting generated an estimated turnover of around CHF 94 million throughout Switzerland. About CHF 60 million of this benefited the commune of Davos.

A number of agencies from the Swiss Confederation, the canton and the commune of Davos work together with the WEF. The Graubunden cantonal police and its partners ensure the security of visitors to the WEF Annual Meeting, the local population and guests.

In light of terrorist attacks in Europe in recent years and the ongoing activities of jihadist groups and organisations, the terror threat in many European countries remains elevated or high.

"Robust security precautions with a high, visible police presence, intensive reconnaissance and police checks are necessary in 2020 to ensure that the WEF Annual Meeting passes off safely," according to the Swiss government.

All cantons in Switzerland participate in the inter-cantonal police operation to maintain security and protect people and property. The Federal Assembly has also authorised the deployment of up to 5,000 armed forces personnel in 2019 2021 for civil support duties to assist the Canton of Graubunden.

For heads of state or government and serving government members, the Federal Security Service will order special protective measures if necessary. These, along with the general security plans, are carried out by the cantonal police and its partners.

Besides, security restrictions have been imposed on the airspace over Davos to safeguard air sovereignty. Civilian aircraft may continue to fly through the restricted airspace on a limited basis provided they have been registered and identified. Authorisation is given by the air force.

The Swiss authorities said they also consider the WEF meeting to be a place of open dialogue where critical debate on issues such as globalisation and the development of the world economy should be possible.