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A gathering of “carnivores and vegetarians” – looking back at this year’s Munich Security Conference 

Munich Security Conference

Munich Security Conference, © Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

22.02.2018 - Article

The Munich Security Conference brings into sharp relief the major conflicts the world is facing. “The world is on the brink of an abyss,” Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned, calling for stronger global engagement by the European Union.

The Munich Security Conference was held last week, from 16 to 18 February. It is one of the most important foreign and security policy forums. Foreign Minister Gabriel delivered the opening plenary speech on Saturday, with a strong appeal for more global engagement by the European Union: “We need to stand together if we are to defend our values, prosperity and security in tomorrow’s world.” He went on to say that this includes the willingness to play a military role. “As the only vegetarian, so to speak, we will have a damned tough time of it in a carnivore’s world,” Gabriel said. 

Bilateral talks

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel meets with Herbert R. McMaster, National Security Advisor of the US President, on the margins of the Munich Security Conference
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel meets with Herbert R. McMaster, National Security Advisor of the US President, on the margins of the Munich Security Conference© Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

A number of bilateral talks were held on the margins of the Munich Security Conference. For example, the German Foreign Minister met with the United States President’s National Security Advisor, Herbert McMaster, to discuss the future of the Iran nuclear agreement and Tehran’s difficult role in the region. A meeting of the Political Directors of the E4+EU with Iran focused on the situation in Yemen. 

Joint challenges

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel speaks with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel speaks with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu© Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

North Korea, Ukraine and Syria: Trouble spots around the world played an important role during the German Foreign Minister’s various bilaterals on Friday and Saturday in Munich. In addition to discussions with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, he also met with the Foreign Minister of Turkey, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. During these meetings, Foreign Minister Gabriel expressed his particularly strong concern about the humantiarian situation in Syria. His talks with Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), proved these concerns to be well founded. Germany is not only one of the largest donors supporting efforts by the United Nations and the ICRC in all parts of the country, but is also using every channel of communication at its disposal to initiate substantial negotiations towards a political solution.

“Europe is not everything, but without Europe we have nothing.”

At the end of his two days at the Munich Security Conference, Foreign Minister Gabriel met with Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission.

Foreign Minister Gabriel holds talks with Frans Timmermans, first Vice-President of the European Commission
Foreign Minister Gabriel holds talks with Frans Timmermans, first Vice-President of the European Commission© Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

Gabriel assured Timmermans of Germany’s support for efforts to strengthen Europe, so that it can pursue its interests in the world. In Munich, Gabriel underscored his belief in the European cause: 

”We need a European moment, not only because Europe is our best tool as regards asserting ourselves in this competitive world, but primarily because we firmly believe that we should focus on cooperation rather than confrontation.”

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