Toronto Star

Greece must move mountains to turn winter summit into summer affair

- DANIELA DEANE THE WASHINGTON POST

Move over Davos and the snowy Swiss Alps. Enter a barren, but sun-drenched Greek island.

Greece is looking to unseat Davos as the king of hosting big-thinking global summits, where the rich and powerful come each year to discuss weighty world matters in the winter wonderland that is Switzerlan­d.

Instead, cash-strapped Greece, desperate for foreign investment, wants similar chief executives, business leaders and policy-makers to travel to the tiny Greek island of Aegiali to shape world thinking on the arts and philosophy in the summer playground that is Greece. “It’s a plan we have been working on for months and we aim to start looking for investors soon,” a senior Greek finance ministry official was quoted as saying by the London Times newspaper.

“The idea is for this (Aegiali Island) to become a centre for the arts and philosophy, hosting internatio­nal conference­s and meetings of global leaders, on a par with the World Economic Forum at Davos,” deputy finance minister Dimitris Mardas told an Athens television channel, the paper reported. Cash-hungry Greece will ask countries wanting to send delegates to the conference to build the centre needed, however.

Mardas told the television channel he was going to send invitation­s to all UN member states offering each country the opportunit­y “to build its own quarter of luxury, forming a cluster of conference buildings on the isle.”

Greek legend has it that the barren island was once the home of hundreds of Greek prisoners of ancient Persia. Now, however, rabbits, sheep and goats seem to be the main inhabitant­s.

The World Economic Forum defines itself as the leading internatio­nal organizati­on for public-private co-operation. It says on its website that it “engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.”

Some 2,000 multimilli­onaires, and other business and political leaders, influ- ential executives, bankers and policymake­rs attend the yearly World Economic Forum at Davos, paying some $40,000 each to talk, schmooze, network and attend big-thought meetings during the snowy Swiss winter.

“There’s no reason why we can’t attract similar crowds for an audience focused on the arts and philosophy,” the Greek finance minister was quoted by the London paper as saying.

 ?? ARND WIEGMANN/REUTERS ?? The Alpine resort of Davos, Switzerlan­d, could soon get some competitio­n for hosting high-level meetings of financiers and politician­s.
ARND WIEGMANN/REUTERS The Alpine resort of Davos, Switzerlan­d, could soon get some competitio­n for hosting high-level meetings of financiers and politician­s.

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