THE NETHERLANDS – King Willem-Alexander and Prime Minister Mark Rutte are attending the Bilderberg Meetings in Montreux, Switzerland this weekend. The Bilderberg Meetings are an informal discussion between important people in Europe and North America. A total of some 130 people will attend, including politicians, directors of multinationals, influential media and large institutions like the United Nations.
There are a total of eleven topics of discussion on the agenda this year, according to broadcaster NOS. These include climate change, the Brexit, cyber threats, Russia and China, among other things. The attendees can freely discuss these topics because the Bilderberg Meetings take place in strict confidentiality – there is no press conference afterwards and the attendees agree not to share what was discussed there.
A member of the Dutch Royal Family has been attending the Bilderberg Meetings for years – the conference was established with the help of Prince Bernhard. In addition to King Willem-Alexander and the Prime Minister, Minister Sigrid Kaag of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation and GroenLinks parliamentarian Kathalijne Buitenweg will also attend this year. The full list of the participants can bee seen on the organization’s website.
The secrecy around these meetings has given rise to a number of conspiracy theories, according to NOS. These range from agreements made to direct money flows towards the pockets of the rich, to planning genocide of entire population groups.
But according to former Minister Klaas de Vries, there is nothing so sinister going on. “I don’t know those theories exactly, but it seems rather ridiculous that there is a conspiracy”, he said to NOS. De Vries attended the Bilderberg Meetings in Paris as a parliamentarian in 2003. “I found it very interesting, because that was the year the Iraq War started. The whole international world was there and there was a discussion about how the war was going. The agreement is that people can talk freely there with each other and that afterwards the outcome is not quoted. I knew that and thought it was a good idea.”
According to De Vries, the confidentiality leads to better discussions. There are many international conferences that are open to the public, and that often leads to attendees being more reserved, he said. “People with important jobs in the business world sometimes don’t want to read their views back in the newspaper. That is why it is extremely useful to also discuss without an audience.”