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What Happens When An Ecologist Gets Invited To Ultra-Secret Bilderberg Summit

No one knows what goes on or even who are all the people taking part in this invitation-only, top-secret club for the world's most powerful elites. So how did a loquacious Green Party member manage to get invited?

Guess who won't be invited next year? (BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN)
Guess who won't be invited next year? (BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN)
Matthias Kamann and Michael Stürmer

BERLIN - Jürgen Trittin is on the defensive, even though the top Green party leader in Germany has no real reason to be. The source of his troubles is his recent trip to the United States where he spent two days attending the 60th Bilderberg Conference, held this year in in Chantilly, Virginia.

Bilderberg is an annual meeting of international politicians, business leaders and journalists that is as exclusive as it is discreet, and Trittin was one of its 145 attendees. Good for him!

Yet Trittin, head of Alliance ‘90/The Greens, feels he somehow needs to explain his visit to Chantilly, where his name was on the guest list along with former Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann and many American and international moguls.

Is this a fitting environment for a Green politician, long considered to be left-leaning? Trittin poses the question himself on his website, www.trittin.de: "As a Green politician, should one attend such a conference?" He answers: "Of course, why ever not?"

"It is wrong to set limits on whom you are allowed to talk to or be in contact with. It's not about the people you meet with, but what you have to say to them," he writes, underscoring the point by adding that Green viewpoints must "be introduced in places where they are still not actively represented. That is and remains the premise on which I base my political dealings."

In the face of criticism from the far-left, however, Trittin feels the need to justify himself. He goes so far as to reveal information about the conference that the rule of silence enshrouding the proceedings usually keeps out of the public domain. According to him, the topics on the conference agenda this year were: trans-Atlantic relations, the EU debt crisis, international energy policies, and cyber-security. He himself took part in a panel discussion "about the euro crisis and the European Union."

On his website, he adds that he didn't say anything at the conference that he wouldn't have said anywhere else; he advocated a "departure from a one-sided austerity regime in Europe;" and he spoke out for "sustainable investment in education, energy, and infrastructure as well as a European debt repayment fund." He had also raised Green calls for a "tax on financial transactions' and a "tax on assets so that the people who are responsible for the crisis and the rich pay a share of the costs of the crisis."

A private club for the world's most influential

According to Trittin, reactions to what he had to say were by no means entirely negative. On the contrary: "Many of those present thought that the way the crisis in Europe is presently being managed represents a dramatic underestimation of its gravity and agreed that a course correction is urgently needed."

To make sure that all other critiques of his trip were nipped in the bud, Trittin asks and answers the question of who paid for his trip: "I did. My participation did not entail any additional costs to German taxpayers." He was invited to the conference, he says, by Matthias Naß, a journalist for the German newspaper Zeit.

But just what is "Bilderberg," anyway? The name comes from a hotel ("de Bilderberg") near Arnhem, in the Netherlands, where the conference took place for the first time in 1954. The name stayed on, even though the conference itself takes place each year at a different venue around the world.

"Bilderberg" is a code word for the chosen few, just the way the word "Davos' -- to those in the know -- does not just mean a mountain resort in the canton of Graubünden, Switzerland, but refers to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) held there.

Unlike WEF organizers, however, organizers of the Bilderberg Conference have never been, and continue not to be, interested in publicity. Bilderberg is a gathering of conservative elites, and being confidential and secretive are the two most important conditions for getting the world's most influential players to participate. Attendees are overwhelmingly, albeit not exclusively, male.

English is the language spoken at the conference, which adheres to the Chatham House Rule stating that attendees are free to use any information gleaned at the conference but not to reveal the identity or affiliation of anyone present. The confidentiality of the proceedings encourages participants to talk freely with each other, and the end result is a market place for well-informed, relevant opinion.

Originally, the Bilderberg Conference was a talk shop for western nations including Turkey, but has since opened up to include participants from other countries including Russia and China.

Read more from Die Welt in German.

Photo - BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

When Did Putin "Turn" Evil? That's Exactly The Wrong Question

Look back over the past two decades, and you'll see Vladimir Putin has always been the man revealed by the Ukraine invasion, an evil and sinister dictator. The Russian leader just managed to mask it, especially because so many chose to see him as a typically corrupt and greedy strongman who could be bribed or reasoned with.

Putin arrives for a ceremony to accept credentials from 24 foreign ambassadors at the Grand Kremlin Palace on Sept. 20.

Sergiy Gromenko*

-OpEd-

KYIV — The world knows that Vladimir Putin has power, money and mistresses. So why, ask some, wasn't that enough for him? Why did he have to go start another war?

At its heart, this is the wrong question to ask. For Putin, military expansion is not an adrenaline rush to feed into his existing life of luxury. On the contrary, the shedding of blood for the sake of holding power is his modus operandi, while the fruits of greed and corruption like the Putin Palace in Gelendzhik are more like a welcome bonus.

In the last year, we have kept hearing rhetorical questions like “why did Putin start this war at all, didn't he have enough of his own land?” or “he already has Gelendzhik to enjoy, why fight?” This line of thinking has resurfaced after missile strikes on Ukrainian power grids and dams, which was regarded by many as a simple demonstration of terrorism. Such acts are a manifestation of weakness, some ask, so is Putin ready to show himself weak?

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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However, you will not arrive at the correct answer if the questions themselves are asked incorrectly. For decades, analysts in Russia, Ukraine, and the West have been under an illusion about the nature of the Russian president's personal dictatorship.

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