Speech by Wolfgang Ischinger

Opening Remarks by Wolfgang Ischinger at the MSC Core Group Meeting in Addis Ababa

 

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Munich Security Conference Core Group Meeting in Addis Ababa. After we have had Core Group Meetings in Washington, Moscow, Beijing, Doha, Delhi, Vienna, and Tehran, I am thrilled that – for the first time – we are now hosting a Core Group Meeting on the African continent. It is long overdue.

 

There is a lot to discuss – and I am confident that the next 24 hours will be packed with thought-provoking and productive debates. I am also happy to know that key points of our discussion here will be followed up by our great partners at the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa this coming weekend.

 

The idea behind the MSC Core Group Meeting format is to create a forum that brings together small, exclusive groups of participants in different capitals around the world in order to debate international security – and to do so with a special focus on the host countries' region.

 

And it really is high time for a renewed special focus on Africa: The continent is undergoing an enormous transformation – and it is doing so with a better outlook than commonly perceived. Africa's young and fast-growing population can offer enormous opportunities for its societies. If states can build infrastructures and institutions that are able to deal with this growth and offer their citizens an opportunity at a life in dignity, the 21st century will belong to Africa.

 

If, on the other hand, states fail to do so,  the discontent and frustration of Africa's youth will fuel many of the security challenges we are already witnessing today – with horrific consequences on the continent, but also far beyond its borders. So these really are critical years for Africa.

 

Let me briefly highlight some of the issues which we will try to explore further over the next 24 hours:

 

Africa is still home to some of the most intractable conflicts. How can they be better addressed at a local, regional and international level?

 

Violent extremism is on the rise in key parts of the continent. What can African countries do to fight jihadist groups more effectively, and what role can and should international actors play?

 

Why are elections in numerous African countries accompanied by political unrest? Are efforts toward improving governance on a state level succeeding? Is there a way out of the current major disagreements concerning the International Criminal Court?

 

We will also look at the security risks caused by climate change and epidemics. Which African regions are most vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change, and how should policy-makers respond? What are the biggest risks to health security in Africa today?

 

Finally, how well is the African Union positioned as a regional and international security actor? What is the state and future of Africa's security architecture?

 

Of course, these are only some of the security threats African countries are facing today. But they are certainly some of the most pressing. And many of them matter not just for Africa, but also for Europe and other parts of the world. We depend on each other, and we both can learn from each other: The refugee crisis in Europe, for example, cannot be solved without taking into account the situation in Africa. The fight against international terrorism cannot be won without close cooperation with Africa, where some of the most deadly terrorist groups are wreaking havoc.

 

Surely, the next 24 hours are far from enough to define final answers to these problems; but I am convinced that they can create important momentum for an even closer dialogue on regional and international security challenges between Africa and Europe in the long term. 

 

We would not be able to put together such an exciting event without excellent partners: I would like to thank and acknowledge – in addition to the Tana Forum – the African Union Commission and the governments of Germany and Ethiopia.

 

And we are very grateful for the support we have received from a number of foundations and private companies: the Robert Bosch Foundation, Merck, Berger Strategy Consultants, Microsoft, Ernst & Young, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Chatham House.