Obama: “Putin is a threat to European democracy” | International


Barack Obama assured this Tuesday in Malaga that “[Vladímir] Putin is a threat to European democracy” and that the authoritarian regime of the Russian president and the invasion of Ukraine are facts “connected” with figures of extreme right-wing populism, such as Marine Le Pen in France. “It is important that we ask ourselves if we are doing all that we must to defend democracy. We must work so that we can all affirm our culture without attacking others”, stated the President of the United States between 2009 and 2017 in an act of the Digital Enterprise Show international congress, a forum on innovation and digital transformation that, after six editions in Madrid, has moved to Malaga, where it will be held for the next five years. The Democratic former president and Nobel Peace Prize has declared himself “optimistic” about the resolution of the war in Ukraine, to which he has dedicated part of his speech. “The new generations have taken peace and prosperity for granted, but the Russian invasion has awakened them,” he said.

Obama —dark suit and no tie— was the highlight of the opening day of the event, which was also attended by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, with whom he had a brief meeting. The former president of the United States, staying since Monday in a hotel on the Costa del Sol, has talked about numerous topics before an overflowing auditorium at the Palacio de Congresos de Málaga, despite the fact that tickets to listen to him cost 1,900 euros and there were no simultaneous translation.

Another of the aspects on which the Nobel Peace Prize has had the most influence has been climate change. “There is no alternative to the ecological transition. And governments must do more […] There is strong evidence that major migration crises are climate related. People have no choice but to leave their land and settle on another”, she assured, while encouraging governments to invest in clean energy.

redistribute work

Obama has considered it necessary to start making social and economic adjustments because the greater irruption of machines or artificial intelligence will eliminate many jobs. “You have to train people better, pay more to those who do things like teach at a school or work in the health system,” he pointed out, after referring to the 35-hour work week as another way of redistributing work. The former Democratic president also believes that the autonomous vehicle will destroy around 10% of employment: “The technology already exists, now it only remains for us to be psychologically capable of sitting back there and for the car to take us.”

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Digitization and digital transformation have been two axes on which the conversation that Obama has had with Sandra Avilés, founder of the Digital Enterprise Show, has revolved. “When I became president in 2009 there were no smartphones. And today everyone, even in the smallest village in Africa, has one”, she has given as an example that both globalization and the global financial market and digital transformation are “relatively recent”. “They have created enormous benefits and we have gained in efficiency, but more control is needed,” said the former US president, who has given as an example the sophisticated fake photographs or videos known as deepfakes: “I have seen videos of me saying things that I have not said. And that technology is going to keep getting better.” And he has asked governments to start working now on how to fight these “toxic” technologies. “Except for the Scandinavians or Singapore, we are not looking at the long term because we only focus on day-to-day problems,” she concluded.

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