Public figures are often required to say who they had lunch with, where, and even how much they spent. They are asked about the clothes they wear, the school they send their children to. But the one thing you will never hear them discuss is the Bilderberg Group.
This year the group is meeting in the Austrian Alps but the only sign of its presence will be the demonstrators who always accompany its meetings and the security designed to keep them away.
The exclusive ‘club’ is, in a way, the antithesis of Facebook, Inc., although Mark Zuckerberg did give the keynote address in 2011. Do not expect status updates.
The Bilderberg members, mostly men, roughly two thirds European and one third North American, are essentially politicians (from both sides of any right-left divide) and bosses from industry, finance, technology, academia, media, security and royalty.
The participants change from year to year. A total of around 140, from 22 countries, have confirmed their attendance in the Tyrol.
The group was set up in 1954 in the Netherlands, to foster Atlanticist co-operation over issues of common interest.
It holds an annual conference, “a forum for informal discussions about megatrends and major issues facing the world”, according to its website.
What has been called a shadowy secret society, a wanna-be one-world government and a bunch of elite intellectuals denies any connection with conspiracy.
There has even been talk of ‘conscientious objectors’ leaking shreds of insight to investigative outsiders.
One of these outsiders states that, according to Steering Committee rules: “the guests must come alone; no wives, girlfriends, husbands or boyfriends. Personal assistants (meaning security, bodyguards, CIA or other secret service protectors) cannot attend the conference and must eat in a separate hall.”
The euronews trademark No Comment format doubtless would be appreciated by the Bilderberg cognoscenti.
We use many information sources, including Wikipedia, another example of an openness that is antithetical to Bilderberg. The free online encyclopedia gives us a glimpse of people who have attended Bilderberg.
Among the latest crème de la crème, there is Henry A. Kissinger, who is a regular. Michael O’Leary (Mr Ryanair) is a newcomer.
First Secretary of State (UK) and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Ed Balls, former Shadow Chancellor are both listed;
Princess Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands from 1980 until her abdication in 2013, is invited this week; Editor-in-Chief of The Economist Zanny Minton Beddoes will also be there.
The Turkish Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Ahmet Üzümcü, is also on the roster, as is Rona Fairhead, whom Bilderberg’s website names as the BBC Trust Chairman [sic].
The only Russian on the final list of participants is exiled economist Sergei Guriev.
To see the 2015 full rundown, click here.
The gathering at the Interalpen Hotel Tyro in the town of Telfs, 27 kilometres west of Innsbruck, will stick to plan: exclusive entry and no reporting journalists.
Costs are met by ‘private subscription’ and the host country of the conference, which always includes heavy security, right up to special radar, helicopters, dogs and armed response teams.
The programme has been posted, but with little detail. It is like putting ‘beef’ on the menu, but not saying which cut:
Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, Chemical Weapons Threats, Current Economic Issues, European Strategy, Globalisation, Greece, Iran, Middle East, NATO, Russia, Terrorism, United Kingdom, USA, US Elections.
Climate change is not explicitly mentioned.
The agenda conclusions are never made public. The website FAQ cites ‘lack of interest’.
Other rules: participants may act on shared information but not identify its source.