The 2018 World Economic Forum is well underway in Davos and on Wednesday world leaders took a stance before the much awaited arrival on Thursday of US President Donald Trump. European leaders sternly defended free trade and global cooperation, in stark contrast of the White House policy “America First”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among the first to take the podium and was quick to denounce protectionism and isolationism, highlighting that the World Economic Forum’s motto of “creating a shared future in a fractured world” was perfect for 2018, a time when countries all over the world need to work together.
French President Emmanuel Macron also echoed Merkel’s remark and stressed that during the WEF, all world leaders must make a “global compact” to harness the negative effects of globalization. The French President, who has launched a campaign to fund scientists in France in order to fight against climate change, joked that the heavy snowfall in the Swiss ski resort may lead some to question global warming, without expressly referring to President Trump by name.
While European leaders expressed their concerns over American foreign policy, the Gulf Arabs took a swing at the conspicuously absent Iran.
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was a regular in previous WEFs and often clashed with other Arab countries. But this year, he was absent creating the perfect opportunity for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to openly criticize Tehran for what they said was its destabilizing behavior in the region.
British Prime Minister Theresa May will speak on Thursday and is expected to “recruit” investors in the fight against online extremism. She will argue that investors use their significant clout so as to convince internet firms to take up more responsibility in the fight against militants and pedophiles alike. According to advance extracts of her speech she will call upon tech companies to step up and help tackle harmful and illegal online activity, choosing a cross-industry approach to the problem.