53rd Munich Security Conference - 53. Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz

The 53rd Munich Security Conference (MSC 2017) took place from February 17th to 19th, 2017 in the Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich . With a total of 680 participants, [1] including 30 heads of state and government, almost 60 representatives of international organizations and 65 top business representatives, [2] it was the largest conference to date. [1] Prominent guests and speakers were UN Secretary General António Guterres , American Defense Secretary James Mattis , Vice President Mike Pence , Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ,Federica Mogherini , Donald Tusk and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi . In addition, 700 journalists were accredited for the event. In addition to the main events, 1,350 bilateral discussions between participants and delegations took place during the security conference. [3]



German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and the new American Defense Minister James N. Mattis opened the conference together. In her speech, the minister also commented on the level of defense spending, which is controversial between Berlin and Washington [4] and announced: “We Germans have understood that, after a period in which we were able to benefit from the benefits of a peace dividend , we are now investing persistently must be in a security reserve ”. At the same time, von der Leyen emphasized the importance of close transatlantic cooperation [5]and promised that Germany would "bear a larger, fairer share of the burdens for common Atlantic security". " NATO cannot be taken for granted - neither for America nor for Europeans," declared the Minister. [6] At the same time, she pointed out that burden-sharing among allies was not primarily a financial issue, but that one had to answer for one another. "That rules out going it alone - both going it alone to rush ahead, but also going it alone to ducking away," von der Leyen continues. [7] In doing so, she reaffirmed her demand for a common position and approach by NATO towards Russia and the Islamic State . [8th]At the same time, the principle must apply that it is not Islam per se but Islamist terror that is to be combated. Von der Leyen emphasized that the world needs a “globally engaged, responsible America”. [6]

In his short address, your American counterpart James Mattis combined a clear commitment to NATO's duty of assistance with a clear call to Europeans to spend more money on common defense. [5] The US Secretary of Defense endorsed a binding plan to meet the payment commitments made in Wales in 2014 and Warsaw in 2016 . [8] Mattis emphasized that the alliance must remain "credible, capable and relevant" [9] so that Europeans and Americans could confront the enemies of democracy together. [8th]“Both sides of the Atlantic shared a legacy of friendship, freedom and a trusting alliance. "The security is highest when a team takes care of it," says Mattis and promised: "American security is permanently linked to European security." [4]

Future of the EU

During a panel discussion on the future of the European Union entitled "Together or Separately", there was a clear difference of opinion between the Polish Foreign Minister Waszczykowski and the Vice President of the EU Commission Timmermans , which observers described as a " clash of civilizations " in miniature has been. [10] The dispute was sparked by Timmerman's accusation against the Polish government of spreading "alternative facts". "The EU is built on rights and values," said Timmermans, who stressed that Richtershould not be subjected to instructions from governments. The common principles are binding for all member states. The Polish Foreign Minister denied the allegations and accused the Commission of misinterpreting Polish law. [11]

The German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble urged the members of the EU to remain united. At the same time, he affirmed that a conscientious protection of the external borders by the Eastern European EU states is necessary in order to prevent border controls within the EU. [12] Schäuble and MEP Elmar Brok emphasized the need for the EU to take its internal and external security into its own hands in order to prevent further loss of importance. [13]

Development Assistance

The Irish singer Bono , a co-founder of ONE , praised German development policy in Africa in a contribution . Germany has an understanding of the economic opportunities and also of the special risks of the continent, explained Bono. He called for a common security and development strategy to ensure basic education and infrastructure for people. The singer warned of three extremes that particularly threatened security: “Extreme ideology, extreme poverty and extreme climate.” At the same time, Bono spoke out in favor of tying investments to good governance. [14]

Future of the West and NATO

In his introduction to a panel discussion on the future of the West, US Senator McCain appealed to the West: "We must not give up on ourselves and each other, or that would be decadence, and that leads to the failure of world orders," added that the Security Conference 2017 is more important than ever before. [15] McCain warned Western societies not to be paralyzed by fear, [16] but to trust the persuasiveness of their shared values ​​and openness. [17]"We may have become complacent, we made mistakes," said McCain, but also reiterated his conviction that "as long as courageous people believe in the West, the West will continue to exist." The Senator expressly thanked Germany and Chancellor Merkel for the "essential role" which they play in defending the ideas of the West. Not every American understands the meaning of this, but he thanked him "on behalf of all those who understand". [15] During the further discussion, the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stated that supporting Ukraine was the easiest way to strengthen the West. [18]According to Poroshenko, Russia wants to "redraw in Russian colors" not just Ukraine, but rather all of Europe. At the same time, he warned against a hasty policy of détente with Russia, since an end to the sanctions would be interpreted by Russia as a weakness and would intensify Russian aggression. Poroshenko appealed to the conference participants: "Do not decide about Ukraine without Ukraine". [16] Compared to the press, the president further explained that in Ukraine all of Europe was being defended against Russian aggression, and "that it could hit other countries after Ukraine". [19] The parties involved repeated their commitment to the Minsk Peace Agreementfor Ukraine. US officials, particularly Mike Pence, criticized Russia's role in the conflict. At the same time it became known that Russia is now recognizing passports that were issued by the separatists in the so-called People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk , which is close to state recognition. [20] [21]

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson reiterated the importance of NATO in this context. The Foreign Minister interpreted Brexit as the United Kingdom's decision in favor of free trade and globalization. [22] The choice Trumps he described as an opportunity for positive change and spoke in favor of giving the new president a chance. [8th]

The NATO defense ministers from Great Britain , France , the Netherlands , Canada and Turkey discussed the situation of the Western alliance in connection with the financial dimension of common security during an evening event. [23]

British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon pointed out how far the commitments made differed from the members' actual military expenditures. 19 of the 28 NATO countries contributed less than 1.5% of their GNP , five countries even less than 1%. Fallon therefore welcomed the American initiative for binding agreements to document the progress of the individual allies on the way to the 2% target and a better burden-sharing of the defense sector. [24]

Fallon cited Russia under President Putin as the reason why NATO had to be strengthened. It is Russia, for example, which is fueling insecurity in the world through cyber attacks and a propaganda war , Fallon continued, who explained: “It is Putin, not Trump, who is acting aggressively. It is Putin and not Trump who is installing new medium-range missiles . ”The French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described current changes in the task at hand for NATO. Classic abilities to defend the alliance's territory, such as forward defense, would become more important again. At the same time, securing the alliance also includes nuclearDeterrence, Le Drian continued. The Dutch minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert pointed out that the Europeans had allowed themselves a peace dividend for a long time , even in times when the security situation was deteriorating. [23] The Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık emphasized that not only the eastern, but also the southern flank of NATO was under increasing pressure and called for NATO to be strengthened in the southeast. [24]

China's foreign policy

During the conference, Chinese Foreign Minister explained Wang Yi 's attitude Beijing on current issues of foreign and security policy. Wang Yi discussed Chinese policy in relation to Russia and the US. Observers also interpreted the speech as an expression of a shift in international power structures, as Europe was only mentioned in passing. [25] Wang Yi described his country as a trailblazer for international cooperation. [26] In connection with, the foreign minister spoke out in favor of a resumption of the 6-party talks in order to resolve the conflict with North Korea [27] and to break the "negative spiral in the nuclear issue". At the same time, Wang Yi announced inMunich put an import ban on coal from North Korea. [28]

Speech by the Chancellor

Chancellor Angela Merkel during her speech

On the second day of the conference, Chancellor Merkel described the major changes in foreign policy in a speech [29] and called for a new global order, which had yet to be developed 25 years after the end of the East-West confrontation . [30] “The world has changed radically. We don't have a fixed order, ”said Merkel, describing the situation. [31] At the same time, she campaigned for a liberal, cosmopolitan multilateralism , whose international structures are worth fighting for. [32] This not only included the Chancellor, but also NATO, its importance due to the Russian annexation of Crimeaand the "clashes in eastern Ukraine, in which Russia supports the separatists ", have gained in importance. Russia has violated the crucial principle of the territorial integrity of states on which peace and security have rested for so long, Merkel continued. The Chancellor confirmed that the threats and challenges to the security of the West, repeatedly raised by the American side, are real. Therefore "we need the military strength of the United States of America ". [31]

"We will do more for defense policy, " said Merkel and committed herself to the goal of spending two percent of gross domestic product on defense from 2014 onwards . "We will make every effort, we are committed to this goal," she said. "Germany knows its responsibility here." In this context, Merkel said that it would hardly be possible to increase German defense spending by more than 8 percent annually, which would be necessary to achieve the common goal. At the same time, the Chancellor described a security concept that goes alongside defense. [31] also development aid and crisis preventionincluded, the costs of which would also have to be taken into account. [33] Merkel described it as necessary to reduce the causes of flight : "We Germans, as we have seen through the refugees, always have an interest in people being able to live well elsewhere." [31]

The Chancellor gave thought to the current state of the EU. According to Merkel, the EU is in a "difficult phase". She cited the reasons that, after the introduction of the euro, the measures to secure it were only introduced later. Likewise, the principle of free movement of people had been put into practice before measures were taken to limit migration at the external borders . [34]

Speech by the US Vice President

US Vice President Mike Pence during the 53rd MSC

In his speech, US Vice President Pence affirmed the willingness of the United States to uphold mutual security guarantees: "The US emphatically supports NATO and will be unwavering in its obligations to the transatlantic alliance." This statement was received with thunderous applause from the conference participants. Many participants at the security conference had hoped for the promise to continue to stand by the side of Europe, to which they are bound by “the same ideals of freedom, democracy, law and the rule of law” [35]the US would not withdraw, but would continue to shoulder leadership responsibility in the world, so the promise of Pence. At the same time, the Vice President reiterated the American view that Europeans had long ignored the principle of fair burden-sharing and warned: "This undermines the foundations of our alliance." [36] Pence warned the conference participants: "Let me be very clear : The President of the United States expects our allies to keep their word and fulfill their commitment. For most, that means the time has come to do more, ”continued Pence. [37]The US Vice President demanded that NATO increase its contribution to the fight against international terrorism, [36] according to Pence the greatest threat to the West at the moment. [38] At the same time, acts of war in eastern Ukraine would have to cease. Pence called on Russia to comply with the Minsk peace agreement for eastern Ukraine and to de-escalate the conflict. If this does not happen, the US would blame Russia for it. In this context, Pence announced the openness of the US administration to new ways of cooperation with Russia. [39]

António Guterres

The former Portuguese Prime Minister and newly elected UN Secretary General called for multilateral structures to be strengthened in order to be able to face global problems with global answers. [40] Guterres described Germany as a "very solid pillar" for the international order and praised its involvement in international organizations. [41] At the same time, the UN Secretary General stressed that the UN needed fundamental reforms, which should enable the organization to develop more flexible, simpler and quicker crisis management procedures and to become more transparent. [42]

Guterres clearly described the shortcomings of the UN and called for comprehensive reforms: We all feel a lack of trust in international organizations. The structures in the UN are dysfunctional. ”In development cooperation, he criticized a lack of coordination and inadequate monitoring of success. [43]

In connection with a short-term solution to the conflict in Syria, Guterres was not very optimistic. [44] Peace in Syria is only possible if none of the conflicting parties believe in a military success, the UN Secretary General said. A victory over IS would not be possible without a comprehensive solution, Guterres continued. This is the only way to deprive the terrorists of their foundations and to fight them locally. [45]

Jens Stoltenberg, Federica Mogherini and Sigmar Gabriel

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg warned the European NATO members to take on more burdens in the alliance instead of shifting responsibility to the USA: "The post-war generation faced the challenge, now we have to do that too." Federica Mogherini , EU foreign affairs representative , noted in this context, suggests that while defense spending is an important requirement for security, it is not the only one. [38] The “European way” of security policy complements these aspects with issues of education, employment growth and good governance, Mogherini added. [14] The German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabrielexpressed skepticism about the 2 percent target. The Europeans shouldn't let the United States push them to increase defense spending, Gabriel said. He did not know where the money would come from in the short term and did not want to "over-interpret" the common goal, said the Foreign Minister. [46]

Sergey Lavrov

In his speech, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described NATO as an “institution of the Cold War , both in thought and in heart”. [47] Its enlargement would have increased tensions. [48] Lavrov's remarks contradicted the statements of Chancellor Merkel, who had spoken of the "sad significance" that NATO had again due to the Russian aggression [49] and for which NATO's eastern flank had to be strengthened. [50]The Russian Foreign Minister called for the global influence of Western states to be reduced, since the world could not be ruled by an "elite club of states" in the long term. In this context he spoke of a “post-western world order” [51] which is characterized by the fact that “every country is defined by its own sovereignty”. [47] Allegations that his country was trying to manipulate elections in Western states was rejected by Lavrov, calling them an "incomprehensible obsession of the West with cyber security and cyber espionage". According to Lavrov, no evidence has yet been found against Russia. [52] The Russian Foreign Minister called for more honesty and called for a "post-fake era" in international relations.[38] At the same time, he promoted “pragmatic relations” between the United States and Russia. Strengthening US-Russian relations would be in the interests of both countries, Lavrov said. [50]

Global health risks

Microsoft founder Bill Gates during the 53rd MSC

During a panel discussion on global health risks, Microsoft founder Bill Gates warned of new forms of terrorism using biological weapons . According to epidemiologists , according to Gates, in just a few years terrorists could be able to develop genetically modified types of deadly pathogens on the computer screen. [53] Such highly contagious viruses could spread very quickly and kill more than 30 million people in less than a year, warned Gates, recalling the Spanish flu , which in 1918 claimed up to 50 million people worldwide. [54]According to the Microsoft founder, the world is currently in no way prepared for such a threat. In addition, the link between health issues and international security is being ignored, although advances in biotechnology , new vaccines and drugs allow epidemics to be contained early on. After all, the measures to protect against pandemics or targeted attacks with biological weapons are largely identical. [55]

Gates reported on the establishment of the " Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations " (CEPI). This organization, a public private partnership, wants to help protect against epidemics by promoting vaccine development as soon as a threat is identified. Gates described the need to prepare for epidemic crises as well as for military responses to conflict. This also includes the analysis of existing epidemic risks and the testing of possible aid measures. Only in this way could empirical values ​​be gained about how diseases spread and how people react to such situations. According to Gates, research needs to be done on how the population reacts to panic and the overloading of traffic or communication systemsa reaction must be taken in order to be able to ensure sufficient capacities for medical care at all times. The American philanthropist named the three greatest global dangers in his view: nuclear war, pandemic and climate change. The world is the least prepared for pandemics. This is a real problem, Gates warned. [56]

The President of the Republic of Rwanda , Paul Kagame , highlighted the importance of good governance in this context. If the government, authorities and the population did not trust each other, essential security mechanisms, such as the health system, would fail in crisis situations such as epidemics, Kagame warned. [14]


Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière and the American Minister for Homeland Security John F. Kelly also took part in a panel discussion on combating terrorism . The German interior minister appealed not to suspect Islam as a whole, but to fight together against Islamist terrorism . De Maiziere disagreed with calls for a new strategy against terrorism, the minister said that what had already been decided must now be implemented. This includes, in particular, a better exchange of data. A European secret service organizationthe minister, on the other hand, gave no chances due to the lack of political majorities. At the same time, however, the intelligence exchange between the EU states should be improved by a European anti-terror group in The Hague . The newly appointed American Secretary of Homeland Security, Kelly, spoke during the panel discussion on the Trump administration's "entry ban" for citizens from seven Muslim countries. Kelly announced that after a transition period in which visas and work permits that have already been issued should apply, there will be a "better defined version" of the entry ban. The Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja AsifDuring the discussion, he was critical of the American approach and stated that such a travel ban would not help in the fight against terrorism, but rather promote Islamophobia. However, the terrorists took advantage of these. [57]

Middle East and Iran

During a speech on the situation in the Middle East, the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Jawad Sarif explained his country's assessments of the international situation and the Middle East . He stressed that Iran is complying with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and is neither building nor building nuclear weapons. At the same time, however, the contract concluded for this must be adhered to by all parties, which is currently not the case, according to Sarif. Iran is nonetheless not susceptible to sanctions, warned the Iranian foreign minister and reiterated his country's official denial of nuclear weapons development by calling for the worldwide abolition of nuclear weapons. [58] The Israeli oneDefense Minister Avigdor Lieberman accused Iran in his speech of pursuing nuclear ambitions and wanting to destabilize the situation in the Middle East through proxy wars and the associated smuggling of weapons. [58] In connection with the Middle East conflict, Lieberman spoke out in favor of a two-state solution with the Palestinians. [59] The Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu also described Iran as a source of unrest in the region and accused the country of wanting from Syria and IraqShiite states make. A ceasefire must be reached together with Russia and Iran, demanded Çavuşoğlu, who described the Geneva talks as the basis for a political solution. In order to defeat the IS , however, a better strategy and suitable forces are required, said. The Turkish foreign minister said that IS has nothing to do with Islam, which stands for peace. The IS is a terrorist organization just like certain Kurdish organizations in Turkey. The minister affirmed that the country did not have a Kurdish problem, but rather a terrorism problem with the PKK . [58]

The Saudi Foreign Minister Al-Jubeir also described Iran as a problematic actor in the region and called it the greatest supporter of terrorism in the world. In this context, Al-Jubeir raised the question of why Shiite Iran had previously been spared terrorist attacks. Despite this criticism of Iran's policy, Al-Jubeir expressed confidence that the various conflicts such as those in Yemen or Syria could be resolved if all sides were ready in the future. Al-Jubeir also said he was confident about working with the new American president, as Trump was a pragmatist and not an ideologue. [58]

The UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura , expressed doubts about the US commitment to Syria . De Mistura said that he missed a clear American strategy for Syria. At the same time, he accused the United States of not taking an active role in the search for a political peace process. [60] The UN special envoy for Syria called for a political solution to the conflict in Syria. [61]

US foreign policy on Russia

During the conference, Jane Harman , President of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, discussed the politics of the Russian Federation under Putin with US Senators Jeanne Shaheen , Lindsey Graham and Christopher Murphy . Democrat Murphy was convinced that Russia had tried to actively influence the US presidential election. This must be investigated by Congress and could possibly lead to further sanctions, Murphy demanded. He described a new "Russian expansionism" that could not only be pushed back by increasing the defense budget, but also required further measures.

The Republican Graham confirmed the statements of the previous speaker and called on the American President Trump to take decisive action against Russia regardless of the fact that the attacks were not directed against his party but against the Democrats. [58]He campaigned for a bipartisan motion to impose further sanctions on Russia. The president, he hoped, would agree to work with members of Congress as "defenders of the free world". Influential internal party critic Donald Trump added that further attempts at interference, e.g. B. in the French or German election campaigns, is to be expected if there is no effective response to the Russian cyber attacks. At the same time, the Senator affirmed the importance of the media, which are indispensable in democratic societies. [62]

Grouping in three models

Dirk Messner assigns the participants' viewpoints to three models of a future world order. On the one hand, the traditional transatlantic model of a foreign and security policy dominated by the West. On the other hand, the political model around Donald Trump and Stephen Bannon , which focuses on one's own country. Thirdly, the path to stronger cooperation and a policy based not only on security but also on climate protection, development cooperation, the fight against social inequality and a fairer design of globalization. [63]

Ewald von Kleist Prize

During the conference, the outgoing Federal President Joachim Gauck was awarded the Ewald von Kleist Prize . Gauck was honored for his speech at the 50th Munich Security Conference , in which he urged Germany to take on more international responsibility. [64]

The laudation for the award winner was given by the Finnish President Sauli Niinistö , who described Gauck as an “advocate for civil rights” who, as a pastor in the GDR , had already found ways to overcome seemingly insoluble problems. Due to illness, Gauck was unable to receive the award himself and was represented by his State Secretary David Gill , who also read the acceptance speech. In it, the Federal President called on German society to acknowledge freedom and continue to realize it: "The future is the area of ​​our possibilities - the area of ​​our freedom," said Gauck in his speech. [65]

Normandy group

On the fringes of the conference, Foreign Ministers Sigmar Gabriel from Germany, Sergej Lavrov from Russia, Pavlo Klimkin from Ukraine and Jean-Marc Ayrault from France met to discuss developments in Ukraine as representatives of the Normandy Group. [66] In the previous months, implementation of the Minsk Agreement had repeatedly stalled. The German Foreign Minister Gabriel expressed himself optimistically and announced that "all parties will use their influence to implement the agreements from the contact group". [67] The fact that the USA did not contradict the Normandy Group meeting was interpreted by observers as Washington's approval of Germany's role as a mediator in the conflict. [68]The Ukrainian government criticized the announcement by the Russian government that ID cards from separatist areas would be recognized as a "provocation". [67]

Munich Security Report

The organizers published the Munich Security Report (MSR) even before the conference began . The contribution to the debate was titled Post-Truth, Post-West, Post-Order? and described a growing uncertainty in world politics, especially after Donald Trump was elected US President. [2] The report, a product of cooperation between the MSC and various think tanks, described the challenges of international security policy and raised the question of an end to the previously dominated western world order. [69] The MSR also discussed the dangers that "fake news" means for the culture of debate in Western democracies. [70]


Individual evidence

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