The current moment in history
Good evening. It has become something of an annual Davos tradition for me to give an overview of the current state of the world. I was planning half an hour for my remarks and half an hour for questions, but my speech has turned out to be closer to an hour.
On October 9, 2017, the Hungarian government mailed a national consultation to all eight million eligible Hungarian voters purporting to solicit their opinions about a so-called “Soros Plan.” The statements in the national consultation contain distortions and outright lies that deliberately mislead Hungarians about George Soros’s views on migrants and refugees.
Economic reality is beginning to catch up with the false hopes of the general population. They believed the promises of the popular press that Brexit would not reduce their living standards, so they managed to maintain those standards by running up their household debts.
My foundations and I took up the cause of the Roma people in the early 1980s. When we started this work, most Roma lived in Eastern Europe, which was still under Communist rule. Conditions were not good. Unfortunately, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Roma’s position in society and the attitude of the majority population have declined much further.
I am greatly honored to be invited to address this illustrious audience. The European Commission, just published a reflection paper on the future of the European Monetary Union, which will open a debate that I greatly welcome. I should like to join the previous speaker in dedicating my remarks to the memory of my great friend Tommaso Padoa Schioppa.
Well before Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, I sent a holiday greeting to my friends that read: “These times are not business as usual. Wishing you the best in a troubled world.” Now I feel the need to share this message with the rest of the world.
The world is witnessing in Syria a humanitarian catastrophe of historic proportions. It is being perpetrated by Russian President Vladimir Putin in support of his protégé, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russian warplanes are bombing the civilian population of Aleppo, the country’s most populous city, to assist Syrian government forces attempting to take control of rebel-held areas.
The world has been unsettled by a surge in forced migration. Tens of millions of people are on the move, fleeing their home countries in search of a better life abroad. Some are escaping civil war or an oppressive regime; others are forced out by extreme poverty, lured by the possibility of economic advancement for themselves and their families.
The refugee crisis in Europe was already pushing the European Union toward disintegration when, on June 23, it helped drive the British to vote to Brexit the EU. The refugee crisis and the Brexit calamity that it spawned have reinforced xenophobic, nationalist movements that will seek to win a series of upcoming votes– including national elections in France, the Netherlands, and Germany in 2017, a referendum in Hungary on the EU refugee policy on October 2, and a rerun of the Austrian presidential election on December 4.