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'High priests of globalization' in Istanbul

Turkish Daily News | May 31, 2007 
TAYLAN BILGIÇ

Some call it "the multinational government", some call it the "elite club which shapes world policies" while others say it essentially "fixes" the world's fate. It literally breeds conspiracy theories all around the world with its secrecy, while participants say it is only a private gathering that should be respected.

Whatever it is, the mighty Bilderberg is at our door: The "high priests of globalization," as Will Hutton from The Observer once famously put it, begin their ultra-secretive annual meeting today in Istanbul. While the international media's silence gives rise to yet more conspiracy theories, the Turkish media is going nuts about it: from mass-circulation dailies to well-known weeklies, the media is Bilderberg-busy nowadays. Daily Vatan calls it "the most secretive meeting in the world," announcing: "Bilderberg in Istanbul." Weekly Aktüel says the "multinational government" is here to determine the fate of the world. It seems the hype will continue until the "high priests" end their Istanbul meeting on Sunday.

For those who have not heard about it yet, the Bilderberg Group is an "unofficial annual invitation-only conference of around 130 guests" (Wikipedia), influential, powerful figures from the realms of economy, media and politics. The name comes from their first meeting in 1954, which was held in the Hotel de Bilderberg in Oosterbeek, Netherlands. As the date signals, Bilderberg is a creation of the Cold War. The idea came from Joseph Retinger, who was concerned about the growth of anti-Americanism in Western Europe at the time. So, Bilderberg, just like other organizations like NATO, aimed at strengthening the "unity of the West" against the "communist threat."

With the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, the group focused on enhancing the American-led globalization. But then, the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington practically resulted in another focus, which one might call the relation between "civilizations."

Thus, after the first gathering in Istanbul (1959) and the second one in Izmir (1975), a third gathering in Turkey, widely regarded as a “bridge” between the East and the West, seems appropriate.

People that run the world:

If one aspect of Bilderberg that irks many is its secrecy, another one is the identity of its participants. Looking at the list of regular "Bilderbergers," one cannot but think that these are really "the people that run the world". Veterans like Henry Kissinger, David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski are joined every year by newcomers such as former U.S. President Bill Clinton, soon-to-be-former-PM Tony Blair, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, former Pentagon adviser Richard Perle and countless others. Every year, the list also includes important "media people" from influential outlets such as The Financial Times, Washington Post, The Economist, The Times, Le Figaro and Die Zeit. The picture becomes complete with CEOs from the world's biggest companies such as Coca-Cola, Fiat, Suez-Tractebel, Royal Dutch Shell and British Petroleum.

With such a mixture, conspiracy theories abound; the most famous one being the "invisible hand" theory. According to some, those who are lucky enough to attend the meetings and get a blessing from the "inner circle" witness breath-taking career leaps. An "obscure governor" from Arkansas, one year after attending the Bilderberg meeting in 1991, became the President of the United States, while Tony Blair of Britain was elected prime minister three years after his attendance in 1993. But why did Margaret Thatcher, a regular Bilderberger, lose her job as Prime Minister in 1990? The theory says that she lost the support of Bilderberg because she did not accept the transfer of British sovereignty to a "European Super State." Of course, John Major, who took the job as Prime Minister after Thatcher, was also a Bilderberger.

One may choose to believe or not, but the secrecy of the meetings – no cell phones, no getting out of the hotel during three days, no notes, no interviews – creates fertile ground for conspiracy theories. When senior representatives of media giants such as the FT, the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post attend the meetings every year and next to nothing is printed in the same papers about Bilderberg, one starts to wonder.

Dedicated journalists:

There are a few journalists who are dedicated to unveil the secret of the Bilderberg, though. People such as James P. Tucker, Daniel Estulin and Tony Gosling. The first two are in Istanbul, tracking down the participants, while Gosling, a Briton who runs the Web site www.bilderberg.org, could not come to the show. His Web site gets about three million hits a month, Gosling says, and attributes this great interest to the fact that "investigative journalism is pretty much dead" elsewhere. The Bilderberg is very powerful, especially financially, he told the Turkish Daily News over the phone: "So, if they come to a decision, it is effective."

Gosling has covered the last 10 meetings, and he thinks the gathering in Istanbul is of high importance. "There is a lot of tension on the Iran-Turkey border at the moment. Iraq is also right next door. This is an area of interest for Bilderberg," he said. "[The Bilderbergers] are worried that Islamic sentiment in Turkey is not in favor of an invasion of Iran. They are here to attempt to persuade the Turkish elite and bring them on board with the neocon plan for the Middle East."

But why the secrecy? Gosling posed the same question to David Rockefeller back in 2003. "He shrugged and said it was just a private meeting," he continues. "But the world does not buy this argument. There are politicians there and they are not private people. They are people who should be held accountable."

Gosling's claim, that the main topic of Bilderberg 2007 is Iran, is a widely held opinion. Other topics are energy policies and Turkey's bid for European Union membership, according to the daily Vatan. The paper is optimistic about the last item; it says the Istanbul meeting is a signal that the EU has "inched open the door" to Turkey, basing this claim on unnamed "Bilderberg sources."

A veteran of Bilderberg:

With four separate attendances in Atlanta, Ottawa, Stockholm and Lisbon, Turkey's former Central Bank governor, Gazi Erçel, is the most informed source one can find. “There are many international meetings such as Bilderberg, which have strict rules,” he said to the TDN. As to the reason of the secrecy, he says it is a precaution to ensure that everyone talks sincerely on the topics, without the concern of being quoted.

The conspiracy theories stem from ignorance about the meetings, Erçel said, quoting Confucius: “Those who produce ideas without the knowledge are harmful. As they do not know what Bilderberg is, they believe in superstitions.”

Erçel also got his share of mention in the conspiracy theories, as some accused him of “planning the 2001 financial crisis” at one of the meetings. “These are defective claims,” he said. “Bilderberg is a high-level meeting. Everyone talks freely and very striking debates take place.”

Over the years Bilderberg meetings had important Turkish participants. Among them are Süleyman Demirel, the former president; Gazi Erçel, former Central Bank chief; Mesut Yilmaz, former Prime Minister; Selahattin Beyazit, a businessman and a "constant participant"; Mustafa Koç, the CEO of Koç Holding; former ministers Ismail Cem, Hikmet Çetin and Kemal Dervis and also some well-known journalists. Among them, Fehmi Koru from the conservative daily Yeni Safak stands out, because until last year, he had written numerous critical columns on Bilderberg. Last year, things changed and he was also invited to the meetings. Afterwards, he wrote a six-day series on Bilderberg, telling much about the environment and the participants, but certainly not much on what was discussed. Koru is invited for a second time this year, but the "jump" in his career is yet to be seen!

As the Bilderbergers gather, probably giggling among themselves about the conspiracy theories abounding, it would be appropriate to quote Alasdair Spark, an expert in conspiracy theories, who had spoken to the BBC back in June 2004: "Should not we expect that the rich and the powerful organize things in their own interests? It is called capitalism!"

BILDERBERG 2007 INVITED GUESTS

(According to www.bilderberg.org)

Ali Babacan, Minister of Economic Affairs (Turkey)

Kemal Dervis, Administrator, UNDP (Turkey)

Mustafa V. Koç, Chairman, Koç Holding A.S. (Turkey)

Fehmi Koru, Senior Writer, Yeni Safak (Turkey)

George Alogoskoufis, Minister of Economy and Finance (Greece)

Edward Balls, Economic Secretary to the Treasury (UK)

Francisco Pinto Balsemão, Chairman and CEO, IMPRESA, S.G.P.S.; Former Prime Minister (Portugal)

José M. Durão Barroso, President, European Commission (Portugal/International)

Franco Bernabé, Vice Chairman, Rothschild Europe (Italy)

Nicolas Beytout, Editor-in-Chief, Le Figaro (France)

Carl Bildt, Former Prime Minister (Sweden)

Hubert Burda, Publisher and CEO, Hubert Burda Media Holding (Belgium)

Philippe Camus, CEO, EADS (France)

Henri de Castries, Chairman of the Management Board and CEO, AXA (France)

Juan Luis Cebrian, Grupo PRISA media group (Spain)

Kenneth Clark, Member of Parliament (UK)

Timothy C. Collins, Senior Managing Director and CEO, Ripplewood Holdings, LLC (USA)

Bertrand Collomb, Chairman, Lafarge (France)

George A. David, Chairman, Coca-Cola H.B.C. S.A. (USA)

Anders Eldrup, President, DONG A/S (Denmark)

John Elkann, Vice Chairman, Fiat S.p.A (Italy)

Martin S. Feldstein, President and CEO, National Bureau of Economic Research (USA)

Timothy F. Geithner, President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of New York (USA)

Paul A. Gigot, Editor of the Editorial Page, The Wall Street Journal (USA)

Dermot Gleeson, Chairman, AIB Group (Ireland)

Donald E. Graham, Chairman and CEO, The Washington Post Company (USA)

Victor Halberstadt, Professor of Economics, Leiden University, (the Netherlands)

Jean-Pierre Hansen, CEO, Suez-Tractebel S.A. (Belgium)

Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations (USA)

Richard C. Holbrooke, Vice Chairman, Perseus, LLC (USA)

Jaap G. Hoop de Scheffer, Secretary General, NATO (the Netherlands/International)

Allan B. Hubbard, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, Director National Economic Council (USA)

Josef Joffe, Publisher-Editor, Die Zeit (Germany)

James A. Johnson, Vice Chairman, Perseus, LLC (USA)

Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Senior Managing Director, Lazard Frères & Co. LLC (USA)

Anatole Kaletsky, Editor at Large, The Times (UK)

John Kerr of Kinlochard, Deputy Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell plc (the Netherlands)

Henry A. Kissinger, Chairman, Kissinger Associates (USA)

Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign Affairs (France)

Henry R. Kravis, Founding Partner, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (USA)

Marie-Josée Kravis, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute, Inc. (USA)

Neelie Kroes, Commissioner, European Commission (the Netherlands/International)

Ed Kronenburg, Director of the Private Office, NATO Headquarters (International)

William J. Luti, Special Assistant to the President for Defense Policy and Strategy, National Security Council (USA)

Jessica T. Mathews, President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (USA)

Frank McKenna, Ambassador to the US, member Carlyle Group (Canada)

Thierry de Montbrial, President, French Institute for International Relations (France)

Mario Monti, President, Universita Commerciale Luigi Bocconi (Italy)

Craig J. Mundie, Chief Technical Officer Advanced Strategies and Policy, Microsoft Corporation (USA)

Egil Myklebust, Chairman of the Board of Directors SAS, Norsk Hydro ASA (Norway)

Matthias Nass, Deputy Editor, Die Zeit (Germany)

Adnrzej Olechowski, Leader Civic Platform (Poland)

Jorma Ollila, Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell plc/Nokia (Finland)

George Osborne, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (UK)

Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, Minister of Finance (Italy)

Richard N. Perle, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (USA)

Heather Reisman, Chair and CEO, Indigo Books & Music Inc. (Canada)

David Rockefeller (USA)

Matías Rodriguez Inciarte, Executive Vice Chairman, Grupo Santander Bank, (Spain)

Dennis B. Ross, Director, Washington Institute for Near East Policy (USA)

Otto Schily, Former Minister of Interior Affairs (Germany)

Jürgen E. Schrempp, Former Chairman of the Board of management, DaimlerChrysler AG (Germany)

Tøger Seidenfaden, Executive Editor-in-Chief, Politiken (Denmark)

Peter D. Sutherland, Chairman, BP plc and Chairman, Goldman Sachs International (Ireland)

Giulio Tremonti, Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies (Italy)

Jean-Claude Trichet, Governor, European Central Bank (France/International)

John Vinocur, Senior Correspondent, International Herald Tribune (USA)

Jacob Wallenberg, Chairman, Investor AB (Sweden)

Martin H. Wolf, Associate Editor, The Financial Times (UK)

James D. Wolfensohn, Special Envoy for the Gaza Disengagement (USA)

Robert B. Zoellick, Deputy Secretary of State (USA)

Klaus Zumwinkel, Chairman of the Board of management, Deutsche Post AG (USA)

Adrian D. Wooldridge, Foreign Correspondent, The Economist

 

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