The son-in-law of United States President Donald Trump, the frontrunner to be the next chancellor of Germany, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the king of the Netherlands and top bankers and CEOs will convene this week in Montreux, Switzerland for the annual Bilderberg conference, a closed-door, off-the-record gathering of elites predominantly from Europe and North America.
About 130 individuals coming from 23 countries and spanning the fields of politics, industry, finance, academia, labor and media will attend the 2019 Bilderberg meeting, according to a press release issued by the Bilderberg Group. The conference will take place Thursday through Sunday at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, a luxury hotel on the shores of Lake Geneva.
Key topics at this year’s conference include a “stable strategic order,” climate change, the future of capitalism, the ethics of artifice intelligence, the “weaponization of social media,” space and cyber threats. Topics relating to Europe, China and Russia also appear on the informal agenda the Bilderberg Group released.
Bilderberg officials say the group’s meetings have no detailed agenda; no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken; and no policy statements are issued. However, only select members of the press are allowed to attend the annual meetings, and they do not report on the conferences.
Last year, the date and location of the conference leaked months in advance. Then the Daily Mail succeeded in infiltrating the conference by embedding a reporter among the hotel staff. As a hotel staffer, the Daily Mail reporter was instructed to look down and not interact with conference participants, according to the Mail’s investigative report.
This year, the Bilderberg Group waited until Tuesday, about 48 hours prior to the start of the conference, to reveal when and where the meeting is occurring. Critics have said, by doing so, the already secretive group has made its 2019 meeting even more protected from public scrutiny.
In the hours following Tuesday’s announcement of the 2019 conference, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a senior advisor to the U.S. president, has garnered much of the limited media spotlight placed upon this week’s Bilderberg meeting. Kushner is considered by many observers to be rising star in U.S. politics.
The Bilderberg Group has a reputation among some of its critics as an organization of kingmakers that catapults certain conference participants up the political ladders of their respective countries.
This year’s crop of politicians includes Germany’s Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the new leader of the ruling Christian Democratic Union and the frontrunner to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor. Kramp-Karrenbauer has endured some struggles since replacing Merkel as party leader, particularly in last week’s European Parliament elections.
The participant’s list does not include any U.S. Democratic candidates currently campaigning for the 2020 presidential nomination. However, Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is attending the 2019 conference, is reportedly considering a run for the White House. Current Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper attended the conference last year.
At times, Bilderberg meetings reportedly include participants who do not appear on the official list. In the lead-up to the 2019 conference, Swiss media have reported U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will appear in Montreux and meet with Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer to discuss developments involving Iran, for which Switzerland represents U.S. interests. Government officials have not confirmed the report, though.
FreeManPost will be reporting live from Montreux for the duration of the event.