The infamous Billderberger conference opens tomorrow in Sitges, Spain, at the Hotel Dolce
, surrounded by its usual cloak of secrecy, police tape, and barricades to reporters. Just the possibility of seeing of Henry Kissenger in a speedo is enough to keep me away.
The Guardian's Charlie Skelton comments in Bilderberg 2010: Plutocracy with palm trees
Another year, another Bilderberg. The first "participants" (as the delegates are known) won't be arriving until Thursday, but already the Hotel Dolce in Sitges is buzzing with anticipation. This Catalan seaside town hasn't hosted an event as large and politically sensitive as Bilderberg since the legendary 2008 Foam Party at the Mr Gay Sitges awards night.
Last year, Bilderberg was held in Vouliagmeni, on the coast just south of Athens. The Greek minister of finance attended, the minister of foreign affairs, and the governor of the National Bank of Greece. A few months later, Greece was bankrupt and Athens was in flames. So … good luck, Madrid!
The group was created in 1954 by Polish exile named Joseph Retinger
and Prince Bernhard in Oosterbeek, Netherlands, and is named after the hotel that they met in that first year. With Greece in an economic meltdown, and whispering around the world that the European Union
could be nosing around for a good divorce attorney, it's probably no secret what's first on the Bilderberg agenda this week. The EU was partially cooked up as an idea at Bilderberg conferences in the 1950s and 60s as a way to prevent further sequels to WWI and II. The group may have some spirited discussion this year, since the EU has now violated Article 104b of the Maastricht Treaty
of 1992 that created the Union with its bailout of Greece:
“The Community shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of any Member State, without prejudice to mutual financial guarantees for the joint execution of a specific project”.
Oh well. These little agreements. You make them, you break them. We did the same thing here with Prohibition.
Each year, 100 or so government, economic, and business leaders are invited to meet and talk freely without the pesky interference of the news media (or their own constituents). Between 30 and 35 are permanent members of the group, and the remainders are invited based on their ability to influence society through government, economics or culture. The list of attendees is made public (have a look
, have-a-lookers), and members of the press may attend, but may not report on proceedings. Minutes are kept, but they don’t contain the names of who said what, only what was spoken.
The group is undeniably an elite collection of movers and shakers, and what they say behind closed doors is kept a secret. Conspiracy addicts see this as an evil plot for one-world government, yet the group proposes no legislation, issues no policy statements, and takes no votes. The participants regard it as an opportunity to chat informally with people who are their international peers without every word being scrutinized on the nightly news. Their rule of silence is strictly enforced, and squealers get booted to the curb.
According to Graham Keeley in the London Times ("Secretive Bilderberg Club ready for protests")
, keynote address is being given by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Spanish Prime Minister:
The Piigs — Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain — are of concern to the Bilderbergers. . . (They) are nervous that the erosion of the euro could nudge the world back into recession while public services cuts could trigger unrest and radicalise the political climate.
Plenty to talk about at the Dolce, then. The Bilderberg protesters, sure that they can smell a good old fashioned capitalist conspiracy, will be holding fringe meetings in the town. The hunt will be on to find a chambermaid ready to ransack hotel litter bins for evidence that evil work is afoot. It has been easier to get nuggets of information out of Bilderberg since hotel staff started to read Dan Brown and talk about the illuminati.