DAVOS | World Economic Forum
This year’s Davos was a unique opportunity to look upon key global trends and examine the roles of individual actors in international political and economic relations. The atmosphere at Davos was full of anxiety, though organizers managed to introduce an optimistic overtone by emphasizing the success of new technologies. The main theme of the meeting was: the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
One of the dominant impressions was that there is neither consensus nor a clear vision as to how to solve the many global challenges, despite the ever-more evident risk pile-up.
The problem that occupied the most attention, both on the stage and in the hallways, was the EU institutional crisis. Massive flow of migrants from the Middle East shed light on the EU’s drastically reduced capacity for decision-making. The growing mistrust of EU Member States toward one another, especially after the Greek debt crisis, has greatly contributed to the fact that only a few hundred out of over a million refugees have been resettled in the EU since last year.
I am under the impression that there are deteriorating reservations amongst decision-makers to suspend the Schengen Agreement, which could lead to its abolishment and thus endanger visa-free travel for states on the EU “periphery.”
As a major transit country, Serbia has received widespread acclaim for its treatment of refugees. This however does not solve the root problem, which is for countries like ours to be kept in the state of uncertainty, reducing their ability to control processes vital to their national sovereignty and security.
The talks in Davos also covered Middle Eastern affairs, where a worsening Sunni-Shia conflict continues to draw major international actors into a dangerous quagmire. It seemed to me that Davos participants had tried hard to distance themselves from such issues, given that solutions to the Middle Eastern Gordian Knot are not yet in sight.
The second structural problem that occupied everyone’s attention was the gloomy state of the global economy. Besides the Eurozone crisis, discussions revolved around the slowdown of the Chinese economy and the consequent decrease in oil demand.
However, Jack Ma argued (quite convincingly) that China is merely undergoing structural adjustments and that it will continue to enjoy healthy growth. It was a great privilege to meet the founder of Alibaba, who has truly come a long way: from having attending a teacher’s college in one of China’s many provinces to becoming a $22 billion capital owner.
My good friend Nouriel Roubini, a prominent U.S. economist who achieved fame (and the “Dr. Doom” nickname) by predicting the 2008 global financial crisis, was, unlike others, an optimist. It is interesting that many prominent individuals at Davos think that in order to have stable economic growth, the world needs strengthened global governance institutions, including the UN.
I also met U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for the first time since the end of my tenure as President of the UN General Assembly. I asked him what he thought of the current state of affairs in the UN. He responded by saying that the organization is doing a good job, admitting, however, that the UN needs to renew itself and become more efficient.
To sum up, this year’s Davos has once again confirmed that the world is becoming increasingly complex and unstable. Actors that continue to adhere to the olden ways of linear thinking will not progress easily. This is going to be a century where prevalent forces will be those that are ready to innovate, act proactively, and offer original solutions.
For a country like ours, with an open economy subject to various influences, understanding global trends is of critical importance.
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