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The Munich Security Conference: Dominated by the present crisis

Foreign Minister Baerbock at the 58th Munich Security Conference

Foreign Minister Baerbock at the 58th Munich Security Conference, © Michael Gottschalk/photothek.net

18.02.2022 - Article

Foreign Minister Baerbock will attend the 58th Munich Security Conference from 18 to 19 February 2022. The conference is dominated by the Russian crisis, but also provides an opportunity to set new priorities, for example with respect to combatting the climate crisis.

“Turning the Tide. Unlearning Helplessness” is the conference motto and the title of its newly published report. By examining the challenges in conflict regions such as Afghanistan, the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and Eastern Europe, as well as issues such as technology and global inequality, the aim is to identify ways in which liberal democracies can tackle current difficulties. Foreign Minister Baerbock will give a speech on this topic and will participate in a panel discussion with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The conference will, however, focus on the unprecedented build-up of forces on the Ukrainian border and the discussion on Europe’s security architecture. Before leaving for Munich, Foreign Minister Baerbock stated:

The Munich Security Conference is an unrivalled international forum for discussing an achievement that we often take nearly for granted but that these days is being seriously challenged: our common security, and in particular our security in Europe.

Foreign Minister Baerbock will consult with interlocutors in various formations. In her words:

We will use the meeting of G7 Foreign Ministers that I have called, as well as the talks of the Quad and the discussions among the countries of the Normandy format that are present, to send a signal of unity – namely that we are prepared to engage in a serious dialogue on security for all. Even incremental steps toward peace are better than big steps toward war. But we also need Russia to take serious steps toward de-escalation: declared willingness to engage in talks must be backed up with real offers of dialogue; declared troop withdrawals must be backed up by verifiably pulling troops back, and reaffirmations regarding Minsk must be backed up with a real readiness to engage in negotiation.

Combatting the climate crisis will also be one of the Foreign Minister’s priorities at the Security Conference in Munich. Annalena Baerbock is to take part in a conversation with US Climate Envoy John Kerry and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry of Egypt, moderated by OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid, which will focus on the climate crisis as the challenge of the century to security and peace policy.

In addition, Foreign Minister Baerbock is to meet with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Defence Minister Benny Gantz of Israel and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian of Iran. The programme is rounded off with numerous other informal talks throughout the conference venue, the Bayerischer Hof Hotel in Munich. It is these informal conversations that lend the Munich Security Conference its special character.

There is, however, another reason why the 58th Munich Security Conference will be a special occasion. This year, the longstanding Conference Chairman Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger is passing on his responsibilities as Chairman to his successor, Ambassador Heusgen. The conference is moreover being held in a reduced format due to the ongoing pandemic.

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