At Davos, everything in moderation

By Ian Bremmer It turns out that moderating a Davos plenary session is pretty intense. There were Lord knows how many journalists and camera crews, a boat load of recognizable foreign ministers in the front row, and acouple of heads of state seated just to my left on the stage. You get the feeling the world ...

By , the president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media.
588951_090130_Erdoganatdavosresize2.jpg
588951_090130_Erdoganatdavosresize2.jpg
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) talks with moderator David Ignatius (L) during a debate with Israeli President Shimon Peres called "Gaza: The Case for Middle East Peace" on the second day of the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 29, 2009. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stormed out of an impassioned debate with Israeli President Shimon Peres about the Gaza war at the Davos forum on Thursday.Erdogan said he would not come back to Davos after being cut off by the moderator because of time constaints on the debate. AFP PHOTO FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

By Ian Bremmer

It turns out that moderating a Davos plenary session is pretty intense. There were Lord knows how many journalists and camera crews, a boat load of recognizable foreign ministers in the front row, and acouple of heads of state seated just to my left on the stage. You get the feeling the world is watching. 






By Ian Bremmer

It turns out that moderating a Davos plenary session is pretty intense. There were Lord knows how many journalists and camera crews, a boat load of recognizable foreign ministers in the front row, and acouple of heads of state seated just to my left on the stage. You get the feeling the world is watching. 

The panel itself is online.

So there’s no reason to repeat the public record. But a little behind the scenes is probably interesting. I got about half an hour with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev in the speakers’ room before the panel started. (There was some last-minute back and forth on the other two participants, with the Iranian and Armenian foreign ministers subbing in.) I’d never met Aliyev personally, but I know Erdogan pretty well and most of his team, aswell. That made the tiny room in the middle of all the chaos convivial, even relaxing, particularly given just how close Erdogan and Aliyev were, sitting shoulder to shoulder at ease, almost like brothers.

Butto business. With four world leaders on the panel and all of an hour for the discussion, the most important thing was keeping the responses manageable. So I ran them through the themes (though not the actual questions, which seemed unsporting) and urged them to keep it short. 

“How short?” they asked. Two minutes for a response, three if definitively necessary. 

Erdogan said, “I need ten minutes for these,and you want two.”

Yes, you run a country, you can answer a question intwo minutes. Which he did a perfectly good job of, as did his colleagues (only the Iranian foreign minister rambled a bit, but eventhen, he largely avoided falling into meandering pontification). Indeed, at one point on the panel, Erdogan said he was cutting short his answer because I asked them to keep it moving.

That proved ironic. Later in the day, Erdogan was on a panel with Israeli President Shimon Peres. After Peres took some criticism from fellow panelists (including Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Moussa), he went on for nearly half an hour. The moderator didn’t stop him, the panel ran over, and when Erdogan wanted to get a word in in response, he was cut off. Erdogan stormed off the stage, saying he’d never attend Davos again. 

I clearly should’ve briefed that moderator.


FABRICE COFFRINI/Getty Images


Ian Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. He is also the host of the television show GZERO World With Ian Bremmer. Twitter: @ianbremmer

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