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”.