BAKU: Economic Impact of EU enlargement to be discussed in Warsaw

Azer Tag, Azerbaijan
April 28 2004

[April 28, 2004, 11:11:06]

As was informed by AzerTAj correspondent, representatives from 45
countries – and thousands of anti-globalization demonstrators – are
expected in the Polish capital from Wednesday, for a 3-day summit
devoted to the economic impact of the European Union’s May 1

Organized by the Davos, Switzerland based World Economic Forum; the
European Economic Summit is expected to gather 20 presidents and
prime ministers, along with 600 other ministers, central bankers,
representatives from the EU and other international organizations,
and 50 companies including Boeing, Hewlett Packard and IBM.

“The meeting will give the opportunity for the representatives of
hundreds of millions of Europeans to meet with leaders from business
and from civil society to try and map out the direction of this
amazing voyage that Europe has embarked on,” World Economic Forum
Chief Executive Officer Jose Maria Figueres said in a statement.

The European Economic Summit has been held every year in Salzburg,
Austria, since 1996.

It traditionally acts as a magnet for eastern European countries
seeking to join the wealthy West, after the collapse of the communist
bloc at the end of the 1980s set them on the difficult path to
economic transformation.

This year, as an exception, the meeting is being held in Poland, the
biggest of the 10 mainly former communist bloc countries set to join
the EU on May 1, along with Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia,
Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia.

While most of the leaders of the incoming countries will be in
attendance, they will be outnumbered by leaders from countries which
are not joining the EU for now, with for some, like Albania, Armenia,
Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine, Serbia and Montenegro,
membership being a distant prospect.

Polish police are also braced for thousands of anti-globalization
protestors, who are expected to demonstrate and hold parallel
meetings on the sidelines of the summit meeting.

Warsaw police chief Ryszard Siewierski told a recent news conference
between 3,000 and 15,000 demonstrators were expected, and that 13,500
police officers, 550 firemen, nine hospitals, 15 medical teams, 40
ambulances, a medical helicopter, as well as prosecutors,
interpreters, negotiators and psychologists would be on hand.

The Summit has posed a particular challenge for Warsaw, as it has
never been the venue of a large anti-globalization demonstration.

The summit will involve working sessions ranging from the euro and
competitiveness to the financial services market, transatlantic
relations, relations with Russia and the Caucasus and one
cutely-named “jog, eat and be happy” session.

“The program will be built on issues that affect business and policy
making, such as the immediate impact of enlargement on current EU
states and new member countries as well as the impact the new EU will
have on world affairs,” the World Economic Forum said in a statement.

“Over the past 10 years accession countries to the EU have made
ambitious economic reforms. Their biggest challenge will be to
sustain this reform effort and narrow the income gap with respect to
current members,” it said.