A Marshall Plan for Ukraine – with this proposal, the President of the World Economic Forum, Børge Brende, set the mood even before the conference began: things should go forward, the focus should be on solutions and less on what is currently going wrong . Because with the war in Ukraine, climate change and the corona pandemic, that’s a lot at the moment.
The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) started on Monday in Davos, Switzerland. 2,500 participants from politics, business and society want to discuss solutions to international problems. The opening speech on Monday was held by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj, who was connected digitally for this purpose. Selenskyj called for “maximum sanctions” against Russia, for example an embargo for Russian energy sources is necessary. There should be “no more trade with Russia,” he warned the plenum. The world must set a “precedent”.
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And Zelenskyj was already looking to the time after the war. He invited foreign companies to take part in the reconstruction of devastated Ukrainian cities after the end of the war. Frozen Russian property should also be used for financing, he suggested. In view of the impending hunger crises in the world, Zelenskyj also called for negotiations on access to blocked Ukrainian seaports in order to be able to ship urgently needed food from there.
The Klitschko brothers also spoke in Davos on the first day. Wladimir Klitschko also called for Russia’s complete isolation. “The war will last as long as the world trades with Russia,” said the 46-year-old. He also called for Russian athletes to be excluded from the Olympic Games. “It has nothing to do with the nationality or the athletes, but they represent the aggressive regime of Russia,” he said. His brother Vitali, Mayor of Kyiv, who was also present, said of the bitter resistance against the Russian attackers: “We Ukrainians defend our children, families and the future of our children – and the Russian soldiers fight for money.”
Apart from Russia’s war, the first day of the meeting, which ends on Thursday, dealt with international energy supply issues, among other things. And a Davos long-running issue, the balance between economic profit and social justice, also played a role.
This is also the case with Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens). He sees four interconnected crises, as he said at his appearance in Davos – high inflation in many countries, an energy crisis, food shortages and the climate crisis. “We cannot solve the problems if we only focus on one of the problems,” warned Habeck. “But if none of the problems are solved, then I’m really concerned that we’re moving into a global recession.”
Such a recession would have serious effects not only on climate protection but also on global stability as a whole, Habeck continued. However, if every country only takes care of itself, that will exacerbate the crisis. “We have to keep the markets open,” said the Economics Minister, but at the same time the rules of the markets would have to change. It’s not about de-globalization, but about more cooperation and solidarity.
The Russian attack on Ukraine has also rocked global energy markets. Saying goodbye to fossil fuels does not contradict the urgent need to take care of energy security, Habeck said in Davos. At the same time, Habeck called for more European unity in the discussion about an oil embargo against Russia. “We see the worst of Europe,” said Habeck. He expects everyone, including Hungary, to work on a solution.
On the opening day in Davos, the message also burst that Poland is already going one step further. The Polish government has decided to terminate its gas supply contract with Russia, which has been in force since 1993. “After almost 30 years, it can be said that gas relations between Poland and Russia have ceased to exist,” Naimski announced on Polish Public Radio and on Facebook. Minister Moskva said on Twitter: “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has confirmed the determination of the Polish government to become completely independent of Russian gas. We have always known that Gazprom is not a reliable partner.” This also affects the Yamal pipeline leading to Germany, although it does not play a major role in Germany’s gas supply.
Two new economic reports presented on Monday showed that all of the crises were hitting Germany hard. For example, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) only believes Germany is capable of a comparatively weak recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Growth this year is likely to cool down to around two percent, the IMF announced in its Germany report in Berlin.