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Davos Forum Opens Amid Worries About Eurozone Crisis

The eurozone debt crisis and its global impact are set to dominate the annual World Economic Forum (WEF), which is getting under way in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to open the annual gathering of some 2,600 top business leaders and politicians on January 25.

In a videotaped statement, WEF Managing Director Robert Greenhill said: "Chancellor Merkel's engagement in the forum is going to be very important in terms of painting a vision forward, not just for Europe but actually in terms of Europe's role in the world."

He added: "And we hope that this will be an opportunity to turn the page on Europe as a problem, and actually be looking forward to Europe as a positive actor in some of the global issues."

The five-day event is opening following warnings from the International Monetary Fund that the global economy was “deeply into the danger zone," with the eurozone crisis requiring urgent action.

A major survey released on the eve of the summit has highlighted how business leaders have little faith in the ability of politicians to turn things around in the immediate future.

'A New Social Covenant'

One topic expected to be discussed in the Davos debates is the future of capitalism. Scheduled discussions have titles including "Is 20th Century Capitalism Failing 21st Century Society?" and “Fixing Capitalism.”

The aftermath of popular pro-reform protests around the world, the continuing rise of China, and financial regulation are also on the agenda.

"One of the key issues of this year's Davos is how can business be not just part of the problem, but actually a key part of the solution?" said Greenhill. "So how can corporations use their expertise to improve sustainability?"

Greenhill added that the meeting would "in a sense" be "looking for a new social covenant between business and society."

"Business needs to look beyond just short-term shareholder returns and actually look towards longer term returns, not just for shareholders but for all stakeholders," he said.

The Davos forum expects to attract some 40 heads of government and state, central bankers from around the globe, and the chiefs of some of the world's largest companies. They will join political activists, trade union leaders, and leading academics.

Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger has withdrawn from his planned participation at Davos, saying he feared he could be abused as a "political football" by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

compiled from agency reports