The 47th Munich Security Conference (MSC) takes place from 4 to 6 February 2011 and again bring together senior figures from around the world to engage in European and transatlantic security. The traditional meeting includes a record number of international delegations this year. Agenda of meetings of world security leaders are dominated by the upheaval in Egypt, but also include discussions dedicated to “Implications of the Financial Crisis for Global Stability and Security”, “Nonproliferation, Arms Control and Disarmament: What’s Next ?”, “Cyber Security”, “NATO and Afghanistan: A Regional Approach ?”. On Sunday (February, 6) agenda of MSC includes a special panel dedicated “A Tribute to Richard Holbrooke”.
At the beginning of the Security Conference, German Defense Minister – Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, NATO Secretary General – Anders Fogh Rasmussen and British Foreign Secretary – William Hague pointed out the need for security cooperation in times of shrinking defense budgets. The German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg detailed how the German army is becoming smaller, more professional and more capable. He outlined the difficulties of responding to financial concerns whilst maintaining the national interest. Also, he noted the importance on foreign policy consensus among the North-Atlantic Alliance. The Strategic Concept is a “solid base” for accomplishing defence tasks, he said.
In his speech “Building security in an age of austerity”, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reminded that: “What is less good news is that we continue to face the effects of the financial crisis. And this years’ conference focuses on dealing with a major challenge – how to build security in an age of austerity. Despite signs of a recovery, not
least here in Germany, the effects of the financial crisis will be felt for some time in all our nations. And governments face tough decisions to bring their economies back into balance”. Full speech of Mr. Rasmussen can be read here.
Secretary of United State Hillary Clinton’s agenda at the 47th Munich Security Conference include (February 5) an exchange of documents with Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, that will put into force a nuclear weapons treaty START 2 between their countries. Clinton also will meetings with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, according to the State Department.
Responding to allegations that by holding a Strategic Defence and Security Review, Britain is somehow retreating from an activist role in the world, Prime Minister David Cameron wanted to remind that “Britain will continue to meet the NATO two per cent target for defence spending. We still have the fourth largest military budget in the world. And at the same time, we are putting that money to better use, focusing on conflict prevention and building a much more flexible army”. Also, Cameron has delivered a speech setting out his view on radicalisation and Islamic extremism. “We need to be absolutely clear on where the origins of these terrorist attacks lie – and that is the existence of an ideology, ‘Islamist extremism’. And we should be equally clear what we mean by this term, distinguishing it from Islam. Islam is a religion, observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people. Islamist extremism is a political ideology, supported by a minority. We need to be clear: Islamist extremism and Islam are not the same thing. (…) The root lies in the existence of this extremist ideology. What we see is now a process of radicalisation.”.
I will return in a future post on discussion between Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Ministry, Moscow and John McCain, U.S. Senator, Washington D.C.. Also we take a look at panel discussions «Nonproliferation, Arms Control and Disarmament: What’s Next ?» where attended Ahmet Davutoğlu, the Foreign Ministry – Ankara, Toomas Ilves, President of the Republic of Estonia,(Chairman & Moderator), Sergei Ivanov, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Jon Kyl, U.S. Senator – Washington D.C., Frank-Walter Steinmeier, SPD Chairman of the Group Parlamentary – Berlin and Ellen Tauscher, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security – Washington DC.
Although MSC is considered too close and opaque , a meeting where are deciding in secret world politics, about the public accessibility of the Munich Security Conference, conference organizer Wolfgang Ischinger explains that: “The Munich Security Conference operates with a maximum degree of transparency and does not take place behind closed doors. Not only are there several hundred journalists who prepare detailed reports about the conference – with the live stream, we offer the interested public an additional opportunity to follow the conference live on the internet, too.”
What’s happening in the Arab World ?
The participants to the discussion of this topic have been: Ahmet Davutoğlu, Foreign Minister of Turkye, Uzi Arad, National Security Advisor of Israel, Javier Solana, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (ret.), Volker Perthes, Director, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) from Berlin, Frank Wisner, Special Envoy, Washington D.C. (via live conference).
Discussion was moderated by: Nik Gowing, BBC, London
The main conclusion of the discussion focused on the importance of time required to achieve orderly transition. Moreover, this view was reflected in recent days in most of the statements of political leaders from EU, US, Russia, Israel. Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, along with the premiers of Italy and Spain, called upon Mubarak to step down and facilitate a “quick and orderly transition to a broad-based government” on Feb. 3. A similar message came from the Kremlin after a telephone conversation between President Dmitry Medvedev and President Hosni Mubarak. So nothing new in that regard. But it is worth noting some aspects of the discussion.
According to Volker Perthes, difference between the approach suggested by the international community and chaos of the uprising in Egypt comes from the fact that politicians see things in terms of political strategy for the Middle East, by contrast, the population is not interested in these issues, people want economic prosperity, living standards decent. He called on Europeans to quickly initiate specific steps helping the Tunisians in particular. While the United States was especially involved in Egypt, the Tunisians were primarily looking north. The EU, for example, could remove trade barriers for food, or ease visa requirements.
Javier Solana noted that what is happening now in Egypt and how this crisis will be resolved may dictate the future policies that will be constructed toward Islam. Frank Wisner said that the movements in the Middle East and in North Africa are further indicators for a period of major upheaval in the intertwining dynamics of an increasingly globalized world. He agreed that democracy is not limited to holding free and fair elections. Jasmine Revolution is not a revolution made on Facebook, but is a revolution of the young generation in the Arab world who socialize on FB and Twitter, which informs and which have common ideals and aspirations. They aren’t attracted to Islam moderate of Muslim Brotherhood, as they are not interested in Mubarak’s nationalism. They want opportunities, jobs, a better life than their parents. One aspect that politicians should take into account when they design their strategies.
Update: 2011 February 6
NATO and Afghanistan: A Regional Approach ?
The topic for the final day of the conference was Afghanistan, where the withdrawal of international combat forces could begin this year. Afghan President Hamid Karzai was present in Munich for the discussions. In his speech, president Karzai noted that he is “determined to demonstrate Afghan leadership and ownership of the transition process” as Afghanistan prepares to take full responsibility for its security by 2014. Karzai has told that US spend more than 100 billion dollars a year for Afghanistan, and nearby 8 billion goes on financing of national forces of a security. But…he also spoke about “parallel structures” such as private security firms, the NATO-led international force’s provincial reconstruction teams and direct support to provincial offices.”They don’t produce the desired result” Karzai said. “Rather, they are contributing to weakened Afghan government and to impediments to the growth of the Afghan state structures and good governance”. Oh, yes ! it is exactly that aspect because I fear that the fight against corruption of Karzai government will remain unattainable goal stage.