Preview of the MSC 2018 at Kick-off event in Berlin
"In the last year, the world came closer – much too close – to the brink of a significant conflict. With our Munich Security Report 2018, we are asking if the international community is moving away from that brink again." With these remarks, the Chairman of the Munich Security Conference (MSC), Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, opened this year's MSC Kick-off event. On this occasion, the MSC welcomed more than 300 guests to the Bavarian State Representation in Berlin on February 8.
*See selected photo impressions of the event here*
Ambassador Ischinger introduced the newly published Munich Security Report 2018, which offers an outlook on the different topics of this year's Munich Security Conference. The report describes some of the most relevant developments in foreign and security policy for the international community by featuring a variety of analyses, maps and charts. These topics include, for example, the fragile state of major arms control agreements, such as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, China's increasing military build-up, and the territorial shifts in the Syria conflict (download the PDF version of the report here).
The discussions at the Kick-off event were also characterized by the coalition agreement between CDU/CSU and SPD that had been reached the day before. In a discussion with Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office, Ischinger focused in particular on the statements of the coalition agreement regarding the policy towards Europe of the next German government. Minister of State Roth made it clear that it was high time for Germany to support French initiatives to give Europe a stronger voice and a joint strategy. He stressed the necessity of Germany setting a good example in the EU and at the same time of strengthening transatlantic relations with the United States.
In the subsequent panel discussion, Mark Leonard, Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, welcomed the conclusion of the coalition agreement. To him, the treaty and the associated relaunch of the Grand Coalition between the SPD and the CDU/CSU offers an opportunity for Germany and Europe: The coming together of these different political convictions and the will of Germany to use its own economic clout for a stronger Europe are reasons to be hopeful. Franziska Brantner, member of the Alliance 90/The Greens Parliamentary Group, however, criticized that the coalition agreement does not provide an answer to how Germany wants to strengthen the EU's common voice in foreign policy. Without a clear German commitment on this matter, Europe could "put aside its ambition to be a global actor," she said. Niels Annen, member of the SPD Parliamentary Group, however, emphasized that the coalition agreement demonstrated that the new government was prepared to use the current "window of opportunity" to strengthen Europe’s foreign and security policy.
With regard to the current multitude of crises around the globe, Ischinger concluded by referrencing the prospects of confidence-building and constructive discussions next week in Munich: "If the Munich Security Conference did not already exist, it very well would have to be reinvented in the current global situation."
Click here for more info on the traditional MSC Kick-off event.