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Cablegate: Scenesetter: The 2008 World Economic Forum Annual

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O 171641Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BERN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4809
INFO RUEAUSA/DEPT OF EDUCATION WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAFCC/FCC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 2802

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DEPT FOR EUR/AGS (PLEASE PASS TO USTR)

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TAGS: PREL ETRD SENV ENRG EAID PGOV SZ
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER: THE 2008 WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM ANNUAL
MEETING IN DAVOS, SWITZERLAND (JAN 23-27)

-----------------------------------
WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM ANNUAL MEETING
-----------------------------------

1. (U) The Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF) is an
independent international organization, with a
self-proclaimed commitment to "improving the state of the
world." It can be thought of as a large think tank with
global mobility. The WEF's aim is to be a leader in
identifying strategic issues and providing a platform for
decision-makers -- from government, business, and the media
-- to effect change. WEF meetings are funded by membership
fees from about a thousand global companies.

2. (U) The annual meeting in Davos is the WEF's signature
event, and the largest event of its kind. It offers a unique
opportunity for USG officials to convey their messages and to
hear what other leaders from around the world are thinking.
The exclusive invitation list includes the leaders of member
companies, as well as influential leaders from governments,
multilateral organizations, academia, media, and NGOs. The
program for the WEF can be compared to an annual professional
meeting, with panels, lectures, speeches, and theme dinners.
Participants must choose beforehand which program elements
they wish to attend. The theme for this year's Annual
Meeting (January 23-27) is "the Power of Collaborative
Innovation."

3. (U) WEF organizers again are limiting the number of
invitees this year to 2,000, down from a high of 3,000 two
years ago, in order to regain its original mission as a
small, informal gathering. Even at this size, however, the
WEF Annual Meeting in Davos remains the world's largest
private gathering of global leaders. Members of the Swiss
government participate in WEF meetings, but do not direct the
agenda. Swiss security services are deployed to protect the
event, however. Security within the Davos Congress Center
and select hotels restricts entry to invited WEF guests only,
with very limited exceptions for security details. Lodging
for non-invitees is scarce and very expensive.

4. (SBU) The atmosphere of Davos makes the WEF a unique event
and offers USG officials numerous opportunities to advance
U.S. foreign policy objectives. Likely attendees to the 2007
WEF include dozens of foreign senior leaders, including
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, UK Prime Minister Gordon
Brown, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, and Ukrainian
Prime Minister Viktor Yushenko. Tony Blair, Henry Kissinger,
James Dimon, K.V. Kamath, David J. O'Reilly, and Wang
Jianzhou are co-chairing this year's meeting. In addition to
Secretary Rice, expected USG Cabinet attendees to this year's

SIPDIS
WEF are Energy Secretary Bodman, Education Secretary
Spellings, United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab,
and DHS Secretary Chertoff. Likely Congressional attendees
include five Senators and three U.S. Representatives.

------------------------------
U.S.-SWISS BILATERAL RELATIONS
------------------------------

5. (SBU) Switzerland is neither a member of the European
Union, nor NATO -- a unique status among major Western
European nations. Switzerland's prominent banking sector,
advanced technological sector, diplomatic good offices,
humanitarian tradition, and status as Protecting Power for
the United States in Tehran and Havana make healthy
U.S.-Swiss bilateral relations important. The bilateral
relationship has been fundamentally strong, but was strained
during the past ten years, first due to the Holocaust Assets
issue, and then by Swiss objections to USG policies vis-a-via
Iraq and Guantanamo Detainees. Recognizing that a drift in
bilateral ties was not in Switzerland's own interest, the
Swiss Federal Council (Cabinet) decided in May 2005 to
enhance cooperation in the political, counter-terrorism/law
enforcement, and trade spheres. These efforts resulted in
the signing of three agreements in 2006: The Framework
Agreement on Enhanced Political Cooperation; the Operative
Working Agreement on Counterterrorism Cooperation; and the
Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum.

6. (SBU) Political Cooperation: The U.S. and Swiss
governments pursue cooperation in areas of key mutual

interest, in the Balkans, the Broader Middle East and North
Africa (BMENA), Sudan, South and Central Asia, and Latin
America. Themes include terrorist finance, counterterrorism,
human rights, humanitarian disaster relief, Muslim
integration, and UN reform. The Swiss have deployed 200
soldiers to Kosovo, and about 20 to Bosnia. The Swiss
public's adherence to traditional neutrality, however, has
slowed government efforts to double Switzerland's
peacekeeping strength. In November, the Swiss Defense
Minister announced plans for Switzerland to withdraw its
contribution (two staff officers) from ISAF, expressing
concerns whether the mission was still coverd by the limits
of the Swiss military's peacekeeping mandate.

7. (SBU) Counter-terrorism and Law Enforcement: Law
Enforcement cooperation remains nascent, as Swiss legal
restrictions and practice limit the information they share to
that with a specific U.S. nexus. An upgraded Operative
Working Agreement, which came into force in December 2007,
should allow joint investigations under limited conditions.
On export controls, the Swiss are signatories to all relevant
multilateral regimes. They approach export control and
non-proliferation in earnest, but have relatively few
resources dedicated towards intelligence and enforcement.
Expanding the level of cooperation in these areas are among
the Embassy's primary goals.

8. (SBU) Trade and Investment: Switzerland has the 16th
largest economy in the world, is the 12th largest aid donor,
the 4th largest financial center, and a major source of
direct investment in the United States. The United States is
Switzerland's second largest trading partner. Swiss economic
officials initially approached the USG about pursuing a free
trade agreement in 2005. Though USTR and the Embassy
encouraged this movement, the Swiss Federal Council as a
whole later balked at commencing talks, not wanting to fully
open Switzerland's highly protected agricultural sector.
USTR subsequently proposed the creation of a Trade and
Investment Cooperation Forum to resolve more modest trade
disagreements. The USG and Swiss governments also
participate in a Joint Economic Commission (JEC) to review
broad economic themes.

--------------------------------------------- --
POLITICAL SYSTEM: HOW THE SWISS MAKE DECISIONS
--------------------------------------------- --

9. (SBU) Switzerland boasts one of the world's most
federalized political systems in which considerable authority
still rests with individual communities and the 26 cantons
(states). The Swiss constitution of 1848 was based on the
American Constitution, with a part-time bicameral legislature
and only limited competencies assigned to the central
government. The seven-member Federal Council (Cabinet) is
the executive authority. The presidency rotates among the
federal councilors for one-year terms. All four major
parties -- ranging from left-wing Social Democrats to the
right-populist Swiss Peoples Party -- have at least one seat
on the Federal Council, meaning that decisions are
necessarily by consensus. Government decisions can be
challenged by popular referendum. The dispersal of power
throughout the political system has served as both a
guarantor of personal liberty and a brake on political
change, for good or ill.

10. (SBU) Social Democrat Micheline Calmy-Rey, who has been
Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2003, is very pro-EU, and
often has been critical of the United States. However, she
supported Swiss participation in ISAF, advocates an overall
greater Swiss peacekeeping presence abroad, and is closely
aligned with the USG views on Kosovo. Pascal Couchepin, from
the centrist Liberal Party, was elected on December 12 to
serve as Swiss Federal President in 2008, succeeding
Calmy-Rey in this position. In addition to being the
President, Couchepin concurrently serves at Interior
Minister. He has been on the Federal Council since 1998, and
is a former Economic Minister who helped to launch the Doha
Round.

11. (SBU) Justice/Police Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf
replaced former Justice/Police Minister Christoph Blocher on
January 1, following Widmer-Schlumpf's election to the

Federal Council on December 12. Both Blocher and
Widmer-Schlumpf are from the Swiss Peoples Party (SVP), but
Blocher was the SVP's designated candidate for the Federal
Council position. In a surprising turn of events that shook
up the Swiss political system, Widmer-Schlumpf was elected by
a majority of Swiss parliamentarians from other parties, a
move that Blocher and his supporter argued was a slap to the
Swiss political tradition of "collegiality". The SVP
subsequently decided to go into parliamentary opposition, and
Widmer-Schlumpf was excluded from the SVP caucus for
accepting her election to the Federal Council.
Defense/Homeland Security Minister Samuel Schmid also is from
the SVP, but has had strained relations with the party.
Schmid too was excluded from the SVP caucus when he opted to
remain on the Federal Council following the SVP's decision to
go into opposition. It remains to be seen how the lack of
SVP caucus support may impact Widmer-Schlumpf and Schmid in
their work on the Federal Council.

12. (SBU) Minister of Economic Affairs Doris Leuthard is from
the centrist Christian Peoples Party, is generally
pro-free-trade, and is the second newest member of the
Federal Council (after Widmer-Schlumpf), having been elected
in July 2006. Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz, from the
Liberal Party, is known for his low-key style. Rounding out
the Federal Council is the relatively moderate Social
Democrat Moritz Leuenberger, who is in charge of the
Environment, Transportation, Energy, and Communications
portfolio. Notwithstanding this division of
responsibilities, major decisions within all portfolios are
reached by the Federal Council in its entirety, a factor
adding to Switzerland's distinct political personality.
CONEWAY

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