It is all too apparent that the divide between people and politicians is growing rapidly. Lack of trust, belief and hope in our leaders needs addressing. Communication between people and our integration with the government is in serious decline. We need our countries’ sharpest minds to come forward and address this with urgency. Politicians need to collaborate with people. We are no longer prepared to be the audience to their theatre. We need a Summit of Minds.
KCW Today attended the Armenian Summit of Minds in June of this year to learn more.
The Armenian Summit was convened by The Summit of Minds co-founder Thierry Malleret and hosted by the country’s recently inaugurated President, Dr Armen Sarkissian.
The Summit’s outstanding reputation brings together 300 international prominent thinkers and practitioners creating a think tank of intellectual capital with the mutual purpose to better understand and improve the world.
Attendees included; world leaders, global CEOs, scientists, military leaders, economists, scholars, political strategists, entrepreneurs, academics, prominent private investors. Young entrepreneurs brought new perspectives and cross-generational debate to the occasion.
Participants came from China, Switzerland, Germany, Russian Federation, USA, France, Italy, Bulgaria, South Africa, India, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Spain, Finland, Qatar, Greece, Georgia, Israel, Singapore, along with the host country.
Corporations and Institutes such as Google, Siemens, Clean Energy, Institute of Global Affairs, Centre for Science and Technology, Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, Institute of Global Health Innovation, Russian Federation for International Cultural Co-operation, National Research Council, Italy, and Starmus (who combine science, art and music to engage humanity in the biggest questions of our time. Previous keynote speakers included Neil Armstrong and Stephen Hawking www.starmus.com), were among the many contributors.
The Summit of Minds is typically held in Chamonix, France. The founders of The Summit of Minds have been part of the World Economic Forum top team, have managed global businesses, invested in new ones and hold impressive backgrounds. Chatham House rules apply.
The topics at The Armenian Summit ranged from security challenges in the Modern Middle East, Energy, Monetary and Investment Policies, Quantum behaviour of Global Risks and Policies, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, Hi-tech and Governance, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and other contemporary fields of interest.
Education for young entrepreneurs, including those of school age was impressive, with Armenia providing learning academies with world partners to support them in the understanding of technology and the workings of the world.
Armenia is rich in historical and cultural traditions and celebrated its 2800th anniversary in 2018. Its capital Yerevan is one of the most ancient in the World. The country has a powerful resource; its outstanding human intellectual capital. It is in the midst of an economic and societal revolution and is ambitious about its global role in the world, drawing on its traditional strengths of scientific excellence, creativity and intellectual prowess.
President Sarkissian’s background gives an insight into why this important Summit gathered so many of the world’s best thinkers, experts and leaders. There is a Statesmanship about him that is rare in today’s politics. He is a popular President and has the loyalty and deep admiration of his people, and as one participant said, “In him you have a real human being who is comfortable in his sentiments and cannot be fatigued”.
Dr Sarkissian holds a doctorate in theoretical physics and is the recipient of many International Awards. He was the Armenian Prime Minister briefly from 1996-1997, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Armenia to the United Kingdom, Senior Ambassador to Europe, Ambassador to the European Union, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the Vatican.
He has been Special Advisor to the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Governor of EBRD, Chairman of Global Council on Energy Security (WEFForum). Board Member of Global Leadership Foundation (GLF), Commission member of Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative (Chair of Energy Security) amongst multiple other prominent international offices.
His work in the field of education is impressive. He studied at Cambridge alongside Stephen Hawking, and was one of the original authors of TETRIS. He has been on the advisory councils of Harvard and Chicago universities, Honorary Senior Research Fellow at School of Mathematical Sciences, Queen Mary & Westfield College, London University, founder of the High Power Annual Conference at the Cambridge University and Professor at the University of Cambridge, Institute of Mathematics of London University.
Dr Sarkissian has authored numerous academic articles and publications on theoretical physics, astrophysics, computer modelling, political science and transition economics.
In 1997 he received the St. Gregory the Great Award from His Holiness the Pope John Paul II
The President opened the Summit outlining the necessity for such an event in today’s world stating:
“When I look at the global geopolitics, one thing is clear: uncertainties in the world are abundant. There are uncertainties about Europe’s future because of Brexit, in the US, related to the upcoming elections, in the Middle East, and many other places. Today, the world is full of new or recurrent ideas. A lot of populism, fake news, misunderstanding. We are losing confidence more and more and the ability to talk. From that point of view I am very glad to host the small ark, not Noah’s ark but The Armenian Summit of Minds, a small ark concerned with the future of the world here, in Armenia”.
Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan commented “In general, there are only two factors throughout the existence of our planet which influenced the planet Earth; one is the cosmic factor, the other is the human mind. Speaking about the main topic of today’s discussions, global and regional economic, investment trends, geopolitical developments, we see that the greatest investments in the contemporary world are made in the area of the human mind. It has got to the point when the human mind is not satisfied with itself and the artificial mind; artificial intellect developing processes are going on in the world and this is, actually in the main economic trend of the world of the 21st century.”
The opening plenary was on Geopolitics and the Development of Eurasia and the Middle East, The Grand Chessboard , and was moderated impressively by Rizwan Kahn International journalist and broadcaster with CNN, Al Jazeera, and the BBC.
Eurasia is a unique region geographically, one that is stuck between two strong elite countries, America and China. This means that Eurasia, and Armenia in particular, has an opportunity to act as a ‘bridge’ between powers such as the US, the EU, Russia, and China in building stronger diplomatic relations.
President Sarkissian, a Quantum Politics practitioner was the founding President of Eurasia House International in London which fosters critical dialogue and cooperation among political and business leaders and is involved in bridge building between the West and the vast geographic space extending from Eastern Europe to Russia, the CIS and to China.
The focus of the session was around the Caucasus and Central Asia as the heartland of Eurasia and the role the region plays in terms of balancing trade, economics, security and the environment between other major powers.
The panel of speakers addressing the matter included: Dominique de Villepin, former Prime-Minister of France, General James Jones United States Marine Corps (Ret.), Matthew Rojansky, Director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center; Mikhail Shvydkoy, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for International Cultural Cooperation, and James Zhan, Director of the Investment & Enterprise Division at UNCTAD. Discussions began with Dominique de Villepin being asked about how Eurasia would develop as a region in the future.
Further discussions included the distinction between the government driven national security of the 20th century, and the inclusive 21st century security policies necessary to address emerging areas of threat such as climate security, energy security, and cyber security.
Global investments were discussed and the effects on this is mostly due to Foreign Direct Investment seeing a sharp decline in recent years after US tax reforms, screening and monitoring processes for multinational investment, and political uncertainty in the EU after Brexit.
Authoritarian regimes in western democracy were cited as becoming smarter about manipulating truth and that for democracy to persist one must “align philosophically with the fundamental question of the rights of a human being”.
The next session was on Hi-Tech and Governance: Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, 4th Industrial Revolution, Quantum behaviour of Global Risks and Policies. This was moderated by Ted Souder, Head of Industry in Retail at Google, and attended by: Professor the Lord Ara Varkes Darzi of Denham, Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London; Alma Donohoe, Partner at Ahren Innovation Capital; Massimo Inguscio, President of the National Research Council in Italy; Jan-Marc Lischka, General Manager at Siemens; Remi Paul, Vice President and General Director at Thales Electronic Systems; and Fabrizio Renzi, Director of Research & Innovation Technology at IBM. This discussed the changes happening in AI and their effect on how business and political leaders make decisions, effectively shaping the near future.
Following this was a workshop on Social Entrepreneurship focused around how positive social and financial returns can be harnessed for greater social and economic welfare.
Leadership in the 21st Century: DIY Survival Kit was the final plenary and held candid conversations on topics such as; rising un-governability, the toxic effect of social media, mounting social complexities, and the acceleration of time. Political and business leaders reviewed coming challenges and how they deal with them. It was moderated by Maxim Kiselev, CEO of the Human Capital Development Foundation.
The Summit was a successful event. The people were extraordinary. Their visions, willingness to work together to heal and build on world politics, environmental, humanitarian, economic and educational issues impressive and inspiring.
It is time we held a UK Summit of Minds and bring forward our country’s own intellectual capital. The East West influence is rapidly changing the dynamics of world politics. We need to recharge and regain our foothold and respect here, and participate more fully in these vital international changes.
President Sarkissian is married to author and artist Mrs Nouneh Sarkissian, and they have two sons.
By Kate Hawthorne & Conor Knapp