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The Bilderberg Group in Athens

"Why are we so scared of Bilderberg?," the eminent Turkish columnist Mehmet Ali Birand almost scolded his readers in Posta newspaper, when the annual meeting of the Bilderberg Group was about to start at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in the heart of Istanbul, two years ago, on June 1st 2007.

"Bilderberg meetings constitute a forum where international developments are discussed, debated and where participants learn a lot from each other. It is not much different from a seminar or a conference organized by an upscale NGO," Birand was arguing then, adding that the presence of the Bilderberg Group in Istanbul otherwise named as "the shadow World Cabinet", would give an opportunity for Turkey to be included among the other important topics of the meeting.

But the conspiracy theorists Ğ and they are many Ğ do insist that this secretive world club, whose proceedings are not made public and whose meetings are closed to the outsiders, are something more than an innocent gathering of world sages. An institution active since 1954, it consists of the world’s most powerful figures in economics and politics, under such "luminaries" as Henry Kissinger, European royals and high representatives from world financial institutions. According to their enemies, the members of that elite group want : "(1) to place political power into the hands of chosen people and eliminate all intermediaries; (2) to establish a maximum concentration of industries and suppress all unwarranted competition; (3) to establish absolute control of prices of all goods and raw materials (Bilderbergers make it possible through their iron-grip control of The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization); and (4) to create judicial and social institutions that would prevent all extremes of action"*.

The Istanbul 55th meeting of Bilderberg Group which ended with a lavish ceremony on the shores of the Bosphorus on the 3rd of June, 2008, was hosted on behalf of the Turkish government by Ali Babacan, a regular guest of Bilderberg meetings and then an Economy Minister. The future of the war in Afghanistan and the unwillingness of the United States’ European NATO allies to help out by committing troops to the Tora Bora mountains, was, according to information, among the hot topics of the discussions. Whether any of the world financial leaders gathering in Istanbul had foreseen the storm of the economic crisis coming, we will never be in the position to know.

Two years after the Istanbul meeting, the Bilderbergers are meeting in Athens. Characteristically Ğ as it happened in Istanbul Ğ the exact date of the meeting remains uncertain. Initially, the event was planned for the 15-16th of May but the date may change at the last moment.

However, the venue seems almost certain. It will be the Astir Hotel Complex in Vouliagmeni, on the shores of Saronicos gulf outside the city of Athens Ğ a place which also housed the first meeting on Greek soil by the then Turkish Prime Minister Turgut Ozal and the Greek Prime Minister Andrea Papandreou twenty years ago.

According to the Greek media, this naturally secluded complex on the tip of a promontory will be protected by the Greek army and navy who will make sure that no adverse incident disturbs the discussions of the distinguished guests. Henry Kissinger will be again among the top expected guests although he may decide not to turn up in the end, information has it. The Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Dora Bakoyiannis the Foreign Minister and the leader of the main opposition Andreas Papandreou have all been invited to join as well as few other former Foreign and Economic ministers from both parties. Interestingly, the Athens meeting of Bilderberg will see faces from the new Obama administration like White House new National Security Adviser Jim Jones, the new Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner and a Bilderberg "regular", now special envoy of president Obama for Afghanistan, Richard Holbrook. Other ’regulars" include the Dutch and Spanish queens, Beatrice and Sophia. Carl Bildt, the Swedish Foreign Minister, his Spanish counterpart Miguel Moratinos and the president of the European Commission Jose Baroso Ğ whose term is finishing very soon Ğ are expected to be among the guests.

During the Istanbul meeting the Coca-Cola Company was represented by its Executive Director Muhtar Kent. In Athens, the Greek-Cypriot powerful businessman and president of Coca-Cola 3E George David will carry the torch to represent the American soft drink giant. Mr. Takis Arapoglou, the CEO of the National Bank of Greece and one of the best known banking personalities in Turkey due to the purchase of the Turkish Finans Bank by NBG, is thought to be among the guests.

Interestingly enough, Ali Babacan Ğ another regular of Bilderberg meetings since 2003 Ğ will be present in Athens again as a Minister of Economy after the May 1 government reshuffle in Turkey. He will be very busy discussing issues of his new ministry if the information that the main topic will be the world economic crisis is correct.

True to the traditions of the Bilderberg Group, nothing is fixed until the last moment regarding the organization in Athens. But besides the nature of this mysterious elite club, there is also the nature of Greek politics. May, may turn out to be the hottest month of the year if the Karamanlis government decides at the last moment to hold again early general elections just before or on the same day as the Euro-elections on the 7th of June. If that happens, then it might be wiser for the wise men of Bilderberg to visit the Greek capital at a later date.

* The Corridors of Power, Raja Petra Kamarudin. Nexus Magazine, Volume 14, Number 5, August - September 2007.
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