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Ailing EU economies turn to Bilderberg buddies

The new leaders of Greece and Italy have more in common than their job titles – both are members of the secretive Bilderberg Group. Andrew Williams takes a look at the mysterious organisation

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Europe’s leadership merry-go-round has accelerated in recent weeks. First, Lucas Papademos took over from beleaguered Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, before Silvio Berlusconi followed his Mediterranean counterpart out of the door to be replaced by Italian economist ‘Super’ Mario Monti.

But the two newest political leaders in Europe have much more in common than the perilous state of their respective economies. Both are long-term members of the elusive Bilderberg Group.

The Bilderberg conference is an annual, invitation-only summit of around 150 of the most influential people in the world. Previous attendees include Princes Charles and Phillip, former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Bill Gates and his presidential namesake Clinton. Papademos and Monti can be added to this list of distinguished Bilderberg alumni, and their membership of the ‘steering committee’ is noteworthy in light of their new, high-powered positions.

The significance of the Bilderberg Group lies in its intense secrecy. Unlike renowned international summits such as the G20, meetings are unofficial and unpublicised, held in inaccessible luxury hotels closed to journalists and reporters and heavily guarded by private security firms.

Inevitably, this has prompted a flurry of conspiracy theories – the most pertinent of which is that the group exists to promote a one-world government with an inherent Western bias. Fidel Castro has gone so far as to brand the organisation “a sinister clique”.

In light of the ascension of Papademos and Monti to the top of European politics, perhaps we are beginning to see the fruits of a concerted effort by members of the Group to expand their sphere of influence. It seems fanciful, but the conspiracy theorists would like you to think so.