Secretive Bilderberg Club ready for protests

Spain?s Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero

(Sergio Perez/Reuters)

Spanish prime mininster Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is expected to open this year’s meeting of the Bilderberg club, near Barcelona

Graham Keeley, Barcelona

Splash! Could that be the sound of Lord Mandelson hitting one of the Dolce hotel’s four pools? Or Robert Zoellick of the World Bank? Paul Volcker of the US Economic Recovery Advisory Board? Or merely the euro taking another dive?

That is the thing about the Bilderberg group’s top secret meetings: you never know quite what is going on behind the police checkpoints.

Across the world, secretaries to the rich and the powerful have blocked out the next three days in their bosses’ calendars for their annual gathering, this time at the Dolce in Sitges, one of Spain’s most exclusive resorts.

Times Archive, 1977: An exclusive club

On Thursday, 120 people will gather in Torquay. Henry Kissinger will be there, so will Helmut Schmidt, Baron Rothschild and Mrs Thatcher

Normally, every minute of their working lives is accounted for but, each year, a couple of hundred of the world’s financial elite and the more business-friendly members of the political class disappear from view; supposedly to save the planet from the dangers of parochialism, the nationalist genie.

It is all terribly confidential — breathe a word about it and you’re out of the club — but the Bilderberg watcher Daniel Estulin claims to have a copy of the agenda. The big question this time around is whether the euro will survive. “They are afraid that the countries in trouble will leave and the euro will fall apart,” said Mr Estulin. “The biggest nightmare is if EU members return to nationally orientated policies.”

That would certainly explain why the keynote address is being given by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Spanish Prime Minister. The Piigs — Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain — are of concern to the Bilderbergers. After all, the club was set up in 1954 by a Polish exile, Joseph Retinger, to create a European bulwark against the spread of communism. It provided the germ of the European idea; Franco-German reconciliation, the entry of West Germany into Nato, the Maastricht treaty — all were cooked up in annual fireside chats.

Now, according to Mr Estulin’s information, the Bilderbergers are nervous that the erosion of the euro could nudge the world back into recession while public services cuts could trigger unrest and radicalise the political climate.

Plenty to talk about at the Dolce, then. The Bilderberg protesters, sure that they can smell a good oldfashioned capitalist conspiracy, will be holding fringe meetings in the town. The hunt will be on to find a chambermaid ready to ransack hotel litter bins for evidence that evil work is afoot. It has been easier to get nuggets of information out of Bilderberg since hotel staff started to read Dan Brown and talk about the illuminati.

Could it be, though, that the Bilderbergers are simply having fun, away from their spouses, on their annual jamboree? The secret of Bilderberg could be that there is no secret. Certainly, the hotel offers plenty of distractions for stressed CEOs: qi-gong courses, excellent fish, fine wines and bicycle tours.

Henry Kissinger, 87, the former US Secretary of State, and David Rockefeller, 95, the former chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank, are the elder statesmen of Bilderberg — but the leaked invitation list reveals that the gathering is made up primarily of elderly white gents.

Remember Richard Perle, 68, George Bush’s erstwhile Prince of Darkness? He could perhaps form a Prince of Darkness sub-group with Lord Mandelson. Paul Wolfowitz, 66, formerly of the World Bank? Mario Monti, 67, EU commissioner for the single market between 1995 and 1999?

Only the possible attendance of George Osborne, 39, the British Chancellor, will reassure hotel staff that they are not dealing with a Saga Holidays tour. Other members of this clandestine coven include Queen Sofia of Spain and Queen Beatrix of Holland. No doubt their views will be sought on the Swedish royal wedding later this month. Is it right, for example, that a young princess should marry her personal trainer? Fortunately, the Dolce has a team of personal trainers on hand ready to chip into the debate.

Last year Bilderberg held its meeting at the Nafsika Astir Palace hotel in Greece and apparently failed to spot how close their host country was to melting down. Watch out, Spain!

The weather forecast is for three days of sunshine — time for the Bilderbergers to slink out of the shadows.

Madrid - A club allegedly bringing together some of the world's most powerful people was holding a meeting Friday in the exclusive north-eastern Spanish seaside resort of Sitges amid high secrecy and draconian security, Spanish media reported....

Madrid – A club allegedly bringing together some of the world’s most powerful people was holding a meeting Friday in the exclusive north-eastern Spanish seaside resort of Sitges amid high secrecy and draconian security, Spanish media reported.

The Bilderberg Club was named after the Dutch hotel where it was established in 1954, allegedly to strengthen the Europe-US axis against communism.

The annual gatherings are believed to bring together dozens of political and economic leaders, royalty, and business tycoons from Europe, the United States and Canada.

More than 350 police were guarding the luxury hotel located outside central Sitges, where access roads were cordoned off, the press and the public were kept away as the four-day meeting was beginning on Thursday, the daily El Pais reported.

Secrecy surrounded the guest list, but press leaks mentioned such names as former US Federal Reserve chairman and current presidential advisor Paul Volcker, Austrian President Heinz Fischer, European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Other guests include World Trade Organization Director Pascal Lamy, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, the banker David Rockefeller and Dutch Queen Beatrix, according to the unconfirmed reports.

Spanish diplomatic sources confirmed the attendance of Spain’s Queen Sofia and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who was expected to try to convince the decision-makers about the solidity of Spain’s economy.

The discussions were to deal with a range of issues including the question whether the euro would survive, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, terrorism, and Japan’s economy, according to an agenda made public by Bilderberg researcher Daniel Estulin.

Dozens of anti-globalization demostrators Thursday gathered on the road leading to the hotel hosting the meeting of the club, which Estulin sees as trying to centralize global economic power.

Others see the Bilderberg group as merely influencing official economic forums and financial markets, while some say its ambitions are even more modest.