Eurovision did it with pop music, and the hope was that the World Economic Forum would do it with entrepreneurial spirit. But, in the end, what the Azerbaijani government had hoped would be another high-profile, image-enhancing event fell far short of expectations.
The international business leaders and various multi-millionaires who usually flock to the Forum’s annual meetings in Davos, Switzerland, were noticeable in their absence at the April 7-8 Baku event, which was designed to discuss the future of the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Andrei Kostin, the chief executive officer of Russia’s VTB Bank, was just about the only prominent foreign business baron to attend.
“Not any noticeable decisions, no business deals, no star names. I would say the forum went generally unnoticed,” commented Natik Jafarly, head of the Society of Economic Bloggers, a local non-governmental organization.
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Shahin Abbasov is a freelance reporter based in Baku.