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Trump is the boogeyman in Munich

The picture of the situation that Wolfgang Ischinger draws at the beginning of the Munich Security Conference could hardly be more gloomy. The danger of a military confrontation between the US and Russia is as high as since the end of the Soviet Union is no longer, warns the former diplomat and organizer of the three-day political summit meeting. The mistrust between the military leadership in Washington and that in Moscow was “abysmal”.

Under President Donald Trump, the US “increasingly tried not only to threaten with weapons, but actually practice the use of weapons to enforce their own interests.” The times when the country was a “great regulatory force”, something of a “world policeman” – over.

“The danger of misunderstanding, think of the events in and around Syria, think about the events in and around North Korea, the risk of miscalculations, of unwanted escalatory maneuvers is greater than I remember them over the last 30 years “says Ischinger.

Under Trump, Washington is fueling conflict
He does not have to be more specific. Everyone at the security conference may have read, for example, Trump’s Twitter message from January 3. North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un Kim has just stated that his “nuclear weapon button is always on his desk,” Trump wrote. “Will anyone from his impoverished and starving regime please inform him that I, too, have a nuclear weapon button,” said the US president. “But he’s much bigger and more powerful than his, and my button works!”

Provocations like this, or even Trump’s decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, confirm those who feared the worst when Trump took office about a year ago. An America that fuels conflicts rather than working on solution strategies, an America that is backing down its support for development aid and the United Nations as part of America’s First Policy. All of this is reality at the beginning of 2018.

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The meeting of the powerful and powerful

The Munich Security Conference is considered the most important forum for debates on war and peace. In recent years, especially a state repeatedly caused great excitement.

What is the Munich Security Conference?
In a way, the Munich Security Conference is a normal conference: experts, observers and field practitioners come together to discuss and network. But in Munich, the big questions are about war and peace, about armaments and diplomacy.

Every year, numerous heads of state and government are coming, including Theresa May, Binali Yildirim, Benjamin Netanyahu and Sebastian Kurz. Then there are ministers such as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, ambassadors, policy advisors, scientists and journalists. The Munich Security Conference is considered the world’s largest meeting on security policy – as a meeting of the powerful and even more powerful. And their employees. Around 500 participants are expected.

What happens there?
Every year, speeches are given – which are then widely discussed. Some also change the political realities permanently. Above all, however, the conference is a place for confidential discussions: people meet, chat, get to know each other, discuss important issues without official negotiations and in dialogue. There is plenty of time in the two days of the conference in the hotel “Bayerischer Hof”. But: It is not a secret meeting. The speeches are reported. Journalists can accredit themselves as normal. Official decisions are not made.

What important speeches have been held there?
In 2007, Vladimir Putin spoke in Munich. He was looking forward to the end of his second term as President and was a guest for the first time. In his speech, he accused the USA of striving for a “monopolar world domination” and called the eastward enlargement of NATO a “provocative factor”. Four years earlier, NATO had joined seven countries from Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Putin accused NATO of failing to meet its security guarantees against Russia. The enlargement is directed against Russia.

Even then, the speech was discussed intensively and changed the perception of Putin in Europe and the US. Putin’s spokesman called her an “alarm call”. In fact, it contained all the arguments that were used six years later to justify the Russian attack on Ukraine.

In the following years, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was on several occasions, and he made a point: in 2014, for example, he accused the West of supporting the Euromaidan in Ukraine, whom he described as a violent uprising that was getting out of control. Last year, he described NATO as a “Cold War instrument” and promoted a “post-world world order”.

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US and Turkey want to normalize relationship

Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu pleaded with his US counterpart Tillerson for a normalization of the tense relationship. Another meeting is already planned.

Turkey and the US want to normalize their tense relations, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu. At a joint press conference with his US counterpart, Rex Tillerson, Cavusoglu said another meeting was scheduled for mid-March.

Common goal: defeat IS
Tillerson emphasized the common interests of both states. They wanted to defeat the IS, create stable zones and secure an independent and united Syria. The US also accepted Turkey’s legitimate right to safe borders. He also appealed to Turkey to prevent any further escalation.

Both NATO partners are in dispute over their military involvement in Syria, where they pursue partly conflicting interests. The US is supporting a force dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia, which is successfully fighting the Islamic State (IS) extremist militia. Turkey regards the Syrian YPG as a terrorist group and wants to prevent its strengthening at the border so that it does not boost the Kurdish autonomy movement in Turkey.

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