End Bilderberg Conference secrecy

10 June 2015

End Bilderberg Conference secrecy

Foto: SP

From 11th to 14th June the 63rd Bilderberg Conference is to be held in Innsbruck in Austria. This private gathering is attended by the world’s most influential people: heads of government, bankers, industrialists, top scientists and researchers, and editors-in-chief of authoritative media outlets. Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem are amongst those taking part. It is totally wrong that this meeting receives no attention from the media.

For some years I have been asking myself how it can be that the Bilderberg Conference attracts so little interest from the public. Meetings of the industrialised countries of the G7, of the World Trade Organisation or the UN do attract a great deal of attention and it is in large part the same people in attendance. There is, however, one big difference: despite the fact that the Dutch government almost always participates, no report is produced and the government gives no explanation whatsoever as to what was on the agenda. Instead, they hide behind the so-called Chatham House Rules, which forbid quoting participants in case this leads back to the speaker. Yet the government also says nothing about its own contribution.

A second difference from other important conventions could be that at the Bilderberg Conference no decisions are taken. I say ‘could be’ because outsiders cannot verify this in any way whatsoever. That it’s true in a formal sense I am quite willing to believe, but so many top people don’t get together for two or three days just to drink tea. It’s certain that political and other types of business will be done. Is it out of the question that Rutte, Dijsselbloem, president of the Nederlandse Bank Klaas Knot and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg will be keeping their diaries free for a free-ranging tête-à-tête? Certainly not now, with a financial crisis in the eurozone and military threats on the periphery of NATO territory.

From communiqués from previous Bilderberg conferences we know that the subjects which find their way on to the agenda are of great importance. They include consideration of major economic questions such as the financial and economic crisis; political issues such as the future of the European Union and of the euro; military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorism and cyber warfare. Matters such as the environment, climate and energy also receive attention, which might explain the interest this year of Louise Fresco, principal of the Agricultural University in Wageningen.

In the Dutch Parliament there is little interest in having the government’s participation in the Bilderberg Conference explained. This could well be because MPs and ministers from other parties – the governing right wing VVD, their coalition partners the Labour Party, the centrist D66 and centre-right former governing party the CDA – have been participants in previous gatherings. On other occasions they have wanted to know all the ins and outs, but this doesn’t seem to apply this time. Probably they’re hoping to be invited again themselves and fear that they will be jeopardising their chances if they put questions on the conference now.

If I am to take my monitoring task seriously then I will have to at the very least demand the following of the government:

  • Is participation by ministers probable and in that case will they give an explanation which refers to the conference’s contents?
  • A complete account of the costs of participation must be given.
  • The government must insist on a normal report regarding what is discussed at the conference.
  • Given their monitoring function Members of Parliament should absolutely not take part in the Bilderberg Conference; in doing so they would be burdening themselves with the obligation for secrecy.

In a democratic society it is proper that openness is practised in discussing and taking decisions over important questions. That is rightly demanded of Parliament and the government, as well as of the European Council and the European Commission. It’s high time that the secrecy surrounding the Bilderberg Conference were dispelled.

Harry van Bommel (MP for the Dutch Socialist Party)

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