Medvedev, Merkel, Monti, Cameron to headline annual World Economic Forum in Davos

GENEVA – Promoting measures to get the global economy out of its crisis mode will be the focal point of next week’s annual gathering of world leaders and power brokers in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, organizers said Wednesday.

Four European leaders — Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Premier Mario Monti — will deliver speeches on how to push forward the global economic revival, according to officials from the World Economic Forum.

The global economy has faced a number of hurdles over the past few years, but next week’s meeting in Davos appears to be taking place in a more benign atmosphere than many participants may have thought possible just a few months ago.

In contrast to last year’s event, which was taking place amid real fears for the future of the euro currency and uncertainty over the leadership of the U.S. in the run-up to the presidential election, financial markets are less frenzied at the moment, partly because Europe appears to be getting a grip on its debt crisis.

“It’s very clear that the issue of the world economy is based on restoring trust,” Klaus Schwab, the forum’s founder, told reporters from its headquarters overlooking Lake Geneva. “We have to get out of this crisis mode, which is amplified by the media.”

Schwab called the forum “a laboratory for new ideas” to improve the world, as well as an “informal platform for resolving disputes.”

Over the years, it has drawn together politicians, diplomats, thinkers, artists, celebrities and journalists for a whirlwind week of talks and parties. This year’s theme is “resilient dynamism,” a catch-all term for how to make government and business resistant to shocks like the debt crisis.

Organizers said nearly 50 presidents and prime ministers and over 1,000 chairmen and CEOs of global companies are due to attend the event Jan. 23-27. Others who are expected to attend include Microsoft founder Bill Gates, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

The forum also made much of the fact that more than 400 women will be attending the invitation-only event, which has been held for more than four decades.

Co-chairing the forum are the five CEOs of Embraer, Coca-Cola, UBS, Dow Chemical and Toshiba along with the chair of Transparency International, a nod to the importance of anti-corruption initiatives.

As well as the state of the global economy, there will be discussions on a range of issues, including “issues where we do not yet know the answers,” Schwab said.

The civil war in Syria and other Middle East hotspots will garner attention at this year’s event.

Tunisia’s Prime Minister Hammadi Jebali and Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Qandil, who came to power following the “Arab Spring,” will be attending. Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who shared the stage last year, will be back again too.

Discussions over how to fund the fight against climate change, the risks to the economy emanating from corruption and digital misinformation, as well as a debate over mega-sports events are also penciled in for debate, organizers said.

Other celebrities and big-name figures come each year to Davos, uninvited by the forum, to mingle and attend unofficial side events and parties.


Edith M. Lederer contributed from New York.