16 Jan Tihomir Kamenov: There is a “magical” spirit in Davos – optimism always prevails
Bulgaria’s reputation is unfortunately associated, as a matter of routine, with negative news – real or fake – and although there are glimmers
“A new world economic order is coming. Bulgaria is leaving the Russian zone of influence”, said Tihomir Kamenov – founder of the Commercial League and specialist in public and private international law; the only Bulgarian senior member of the World Economic Forum, Davos and the European Financial and Economic Conference ‘Ambrosetti’ – in an interview for Epicenter. bg on April 12, 2022.
“– Russia’s aggression against a sovereign Ukraine and the shocking atrocities of the Russian occupation army after February 24 and in the last 7 weeks have put a definitive end to the “policy of inclusion” adopted by the developed democratic world towards Russia after Gorbachev and accelerated after the integration of Eastern Europe…
– Putin fell into the trap of his own autocratic ideologies and conspiratorial schemes, failing to understand that any people who have experienced the freedom and prosperity of liberal capitalism rebel against any form of despotism, especially foreign brutal aggression…
– Brussels and Washington understand well that the complete isolation of Russia as far as possible, whatever the cost, is not the optimal course for realizing the goals of peace and stability…
– It is unlikely that Ukraine will muster so much strength as to completely push the aggressor (the Russian army) out of the occupied territories in the east and southeast, especially Crimea…
– So we are heading for a “Korean” solution without a full peace treaty, or no treaty at all, and so with many, many unresolved post-war issues…”
These were some of Tihomir Kamenov’s predictions from a year ago, which time has confirmed as realities.
Today, Tihomir Kamenov is back in Davos and we are talking again about the future of the world.
– Hello, Mr Kamenov, after your predictions came true in our interview of 12 April 2021, now please tell me – you have been a senior member of the Forum for 20 years now, what do we not know that you know about the world? Prime Ministers, Presidents, Ministers, investors from all over the world are meeting in Davos.
– Live and breathe, there is no monopoly of knowledge in today’s deeply connected world. The topics and individual speeches, comments and forecasts are easy for anyone to learn instantly on the web. Of course, I know most of the important participants with whom personal opinions can be exchanged – sometimes useful and interesting or trivial, but it is the personal communication, face to face, that is important. And it is also how the nuances of the relationship are felt, one can anticipate the consequences of inaction in certain trends and processes. Most importantly, when foreign leaders ask national entrepreneurs for their assessment of their country’s economic and investment environment, it is as if they are making a first-hand “snag” of what they know from the media, fellow national leaders, their embassies and offices.
– What does this mean specifically for Bulgaria?
– Unfortunately, Bulgaria’s reputation is routinely associated with negative news – real or fake – although there are glimpses such as the Three Seas, etc… And although in personal conversations I have achieved many positive endorsements from major politicians and global entrepreneurs, the general opinion of Bulgaria is, at best, balanced and neutral. You have seen essentially how flimsy the reservations of the Netherlands and Austria against our ‘Schengenisation’ are, and in fact deep-rooted prejudice and negative opinion, often used for domestic political purposes.
– That we have not had a stable government for 2 years, that we are involved in cyber scandals and that we do not have strong and strong geopolitical positions in support of our Euro-Atlantic integration is known, but Borissov and the Tsar went to Davos as Prime Ministers. And now there is no one from the state leadership of the Forum – neither prime minister nor president.
– They came, yes, and that was great for those years. Not that they heard only flattering things about the country and their government, but their presence at the Forum was important. Borissov even got angry in January 2018, when Bulgaria held the EU presidency, at the stupidity of a Scandinavian investor, scolded with the facts, so Plenkovic (prime minister of Croatia, ed.) and I had to convince him to return to the session. Then I took Christine Lagarde and introduced them to Borissov – they got so chatty and friendly that we were late for the session with President Trump. The physical and emotional bonding in the crowded Convention Center and the rediscovery of the personality behind the facade of titles and positions is the so-called magical “spirit of Davos”.
– So, let’s see where Plenković and Croatia are now, with their collusive and communicative politics – in Schengen and in the Eurozone, and where are we – squabbling with each other?
– Yes, they are where we should have waited for them a long time ago if, after 2007, we had been consistent and united in the pursuit of national interests with a six and a half year head start in EU membership, I stress.
They, the others, are fulfilling the testament of our great builders of a liberated and united Bulgaria – ‘Unity makes the strength’ – which led to the 7th economy in Europe in 1939.
And we, the Bulgarians, have lost the momentum of external and even internal political assets that we had gathered under the Western Balkans Unification Initiative in 2017-2019.
I am sending you a picture which clearly shows how in the closed session in Davos, Prime Ministers Borissov, Rama, together with Plenkovic and Kamenov sit closest of the two chairs of the President of Forum B. Brende, and of course we together led the topics and commented on the expectations of all the other participants from Vienna to Athens.
We squandered the international and public capital and inspiration we had gathered, including from the World Economic Forum session that took place in Sofia in May 2018.
– From the US and Switzerland, do you follow politics in our country?
– Yes, with frustration at the massive careerism or outright charlatanism that has entered political life en masse.
– But this refers to one of the new parties, or so the president said?
– Certainly more so, but there are “grains” in the incumbent parties as well. Here, for example, the well-known state director, then minister, then deputy Kostadin Angelov, who, aided by a short-lived minister (from Sr. Kurnovo, Romansko), blocked for 14 months now the most modern project in Bulgarian health care – ‘Heart and Brain’ Sofia; then ordered a draft government full of good doctors-clinicians, but without a day of training and a political career – this experimental policy disgusts foreigners, and apparently the awake Bulgarian people, who do not even want to vote anymore.
– Yes, people are disheartened – we will see what happens at the next elections. We must find time to talk about healthcare separately, because it affects everyone and is the most important issue for the future of the new Bulgaria. And in Davos now the mood is gloomy too, is it not, because there are many crises to discuss?
– It only looks like that. The “spirit of Davos” is unique and contagious in its inspiration and its optimism. You will feel it if you read or watch the keynote speeches, massively available online. The Chinese understanding of “crisis” and “opportunity” in one concept dominates.
In Davos, optimism always prevails. The black-eyed are humbled, the optimism of the far-sighted takes over. This was the case even in January 2009, when the financial crisis in the United States, Europe and the world was in full swing.
So it was in January 2020, just before the looming Kovid pandemic. So it will be now, despite the gloomy forecasts of a severe recession and months of war in Europe and expected unemployment.
In this country, unfortunately, as can be clearly seen from here, too much public energy is being wasted in spirals of intrigue, endless commentary on obvious nonsense, denigration of opponents and competition, and the deficit of fairness is deepening and particularly painful: the big, important, national issues are always decided hastily and often incompetently in most areas of socio-economic life. Good results happen slowly.
That is why it is now important that we, entrepreneurs, taxpayers and investors, and the whole Homeland, emerge stronger from crises with timely investments and far-sighted policy decisions.
– What do you wish for yourself and what do you wish for our readers?
– May I have the strength and the chance to bring Bulgaria closer to the position of a model medical centre in the Balkans, and to the readers – all of them without exception – to see these days of great international admiration and the grace of help and care for them.