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World Economic Forum: Security forces outnumber delegates at Davos

The airspace over and around Davos has been declared a no-fly zone, with aerial policing measures on standby from January 22 to January 27.

world Updated: Jan 21, 2018 22:49 IST
Sanchita Sharma
Sanchita Sharma
Hindustan Times, Davos
World Economic Forum,Davos,Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Police patrol the Swiss Alps resort of Davos, on January 21, 2018, ahead of the World Economic Forum.(Reuters)

Security forces will outnumber visitors at Davos this week, with airspace restrictions and 5,000 armed personnel turning the Swiss ski resort into a fortress for the World Economic Forum.

Noting that “Switzerland is part of the western world, considered anti-Islam by the jihadists, and is therefore also a possible target of terrorist attacks” most likely “by radicalised individuals in Switzerland”, an additional 5,000 armed personnel have been deployed for civil support duties to support the services and equipment provided by the 26 cantons in Switzerland to the Canton of Graubünden, where Davos is located.

The annual meeting will host Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and UK Prime Minister Theresa May, along with 70 other heads of state, 38 global CEOs and 3,000 delegates and members of the media.

The airspace over and around Davos has been declared a no-fly zone, with aerial policing measures on standby from January 22 to January 27. Civilian aircraft and private jets will be allowed to fly through a restricted airspace after identification, while helicopters ferrying the powerful, rich and famous to and from Davos will be controlled by the Swiss Air Force and the federal office for civil aviation.

Air traffic restrictions will apply to a radius of 25 nautical miles (around 46 km) around the centre of Davos, with similar restrictions over border areas in neighbouring Austria and Italy. The restrictions also apply to all airspace users, including civilian aircraft, private jets, helicopters, paragliders, drones, and model airplanes, among others.

“Due in particular to the activities and planning by Islamic State, the terrorist threat in Switzerland remains high. The most likely threat comes in the form of attacks requiring minimum logistical planning, carried out by individuals or small groups,” a statement on the Federal Council website read.

Only people with security clearance and delegate passes can enter Davos and neighbouring Klosters, with high and visible police presence, intensive reconnaissance and police checks ensuring those without valid permissions are kept out.

Groups planning protests against capitalist globalization and Trump’s “charismatic strongman politics” need to apply for an authorisation to hold a demonstration at least 48 hours before the planned event.

Around 2,500 delegates from business, politics, research and culture and 500 media personnel from 90 countries began arriving at Davos on Sunday for the WEF annual meeting. Modi will deliver the opening address of the event, while Trump’s speech will close it.

This year, the meet focuses on international security, environment, global economy, and divisions within societies amid heightened geostrategic competition.

First Published: Jan 21, 2018 22:21 IST