Chairman of the Programme Council of the 2020 Economic Forum

It is the most important place in Central and Eastern Europe to discuss political, economic and social issues. More than 330 events, several thousand guests: heads of state and government, central offices, politicians, local government activists, scientists, journalists, social activists – says Zygmunt Berdychowski in an interview with Bogusław Chrabota – editor-in-chief of „Rzeczpospolita” daily.

Bogusław Chrabota talks to Zygmunt Berdychowski, Chairman of the Programme Council of the Economic Forum

The Economic Forum has been organized for almost three decades. It is the most important place of discussion on political, economic and social issues in Central and Eastern Europe. More than 330 events, several thousand guests: heads of state and government, central offices, politicians, local government activists, scientists, journalists, social activists. This is what the Economic Forum 2020, scheduled to take place between 8 and 10 September, is going to be like.

Will the Forum’s principles be changed this year, due to the epidemiological situation in Poland and worldwide? Will you use more online tools?

Technically, there will be no changes in principle. The guests of the Economic Forum will meet traditionally in Krynica, and some of these Krynica events, as in previous years, will be broadcast online. This is for our partners, who for various reasons cannot be with us personally. However, all debates will be held on the spot in Krynica. We do not plan to connect with our guests remotely.

What will the Forum’s epidemiological security measures look like in this case?

This is obviously a priority. This year, we have additionally implemented solutions fully compliant with COVID-19 requirements. According to the requirements, we must provide 2.5 sqm per person. Our congress center is almost 12 thousand square meters, which allows us to organize the Forum practically on unchanged rules and with a comparable number of guests. Registration is carried out online, on the spot we will launch a contactless point for issuing conference materials. All Forum guests will have to go first through a specially prepared medical zone where we will measure the temperature for everyone and in case of any doubts we will direct a person to a 15-minute test. The security services will pay special attention to follow the instructions for safe behaviour and keep the distance between participants, the capacity of conference facilities, etc. A special medical rescue team trained in COVID-19 will be on duty on the spot. We will provide all participants, employees and suppliers with instructions on safe behaviour and how to proceed if a person with disturbing symptoms appears. These will be included in printed conference materials and electronic applications. We will place the telephone numbers of sanitary, epidemiological and medical services in visible places. Additionally, we will activate our own emergency phone.

What are the main assumptions of this year’s Economic Forum?      

The motto is “Europe after the pandemic: Solidarity, Freedom, Community?” Solidarity because the year 2020 is primarily the 40th anniversary of Solidarity. The movement that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall changed our part of Europe so much. Freedom – because discussions on how to combine the right to full freedom for individuals and communities to realise one’s own needs with ever stronger movements that anarchise democratic reality are becoming more frequent.  And finally, community – because in our part of the continent there is more and more talk about how to take care of one’s own identity and national interests while creating the European Union.

This slogan is also valid in the context of a pandemic. How to build lasting international solidarity in the fight against the biggest plague of the 21st century? ? How much can the state limit the civil liberties of the individual in the interest of the collective well-being of citizens? Where is the boundary between the freedom of the individual and his responsibility for the fate of the community? Will awareness of the universal threat create a community that will help us to overcome the COVID-19?

Will the Economic Forum 2020 also address topics not related to the pandemic?

Of course. We cannot ignore such important issues as the merger prepared by Orlen and Lotos or giant investments such as the Solidarity Transport Hub. Traditionally, we will also spend a lot of time discussing cyber security, international security, the arms industry or the eastern flank of NATO.

Every year Krynica is visited by prime ministers and ministers. Can we expect them this year too? Have they already confirmed their presence at the Forum?

The Economic Forum in Krynica Zdrój is the largest event of this kind in this part of Europe. Its rank attracts every year a multitude of experts, leaders of politics and business. I do not want to reveal too much here, at this stage, but one thing I can say with all my determination. The guests we invited to the Economic Forum 2020 do not differ in rank from those we have hosted in previous years. I am thinking of guests from Poland and abroad. However, we will not talk about these most important visits until we all meet in Krynica in September.

The Economic Forum means 3 decades of meetings and discussions. How has the Forum changed over the years?

Throughout the first years we hosted only Polish people in Krynica. Now over 30 percent are foreign guests. Among them are prime ministers, ministers, experts from the world of economy and business. We invited 120 people to the first Forum. Last year, we hosted almost 5,000 people from 61 countries. The Economic Forum has become an important point on the map of European political and economic events. It is here that the leaders of the world of politics and business meet to discuss and exchange views on the most important issues for Poland and the world. This year will be the same. The last few months have shown us that it is impossible to transfer all aspects of interpersonal contacts to the Internet. It is these opinions, which we have collected from our numerous partners, that have strengthened our conviction that this year, even more than in previous years, the Economic Forum, as a place for exchanging views and establishing relations, is needed.

What about the Running Festival, will it be held?

Preparations for the 11th TAURON Running Festival are proceeding according to the assumptions, of course we monitor the governmental announcements and recommendations of the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate. Our main goal this year is to create the best possible conditions for safe sports competition. Those willing to take part in the sporting competition during the weekend of 11-13 September are numerous – over 6,000 competitors have already registered for our runs.

Can you guarantee good weather?

Whatever will be, will be.

 

The interview in Polish was published in the Rzeczpospolita daily on July 24, 2020.