The 55th Munich Security Conference 2019 (MSC) has been inaugurated on Friday and will take place from 15 to 17 February. More than 600 guests from politics, industry, science and media are expected to join this high-level event - among them 35 Heads of State and Heads of Governments, 50 Foreign and 30 Defence Ministers. Motto of this year’s conference is “The Great Puzzle: Who will pick up the Pieces?”

Germany’s Government is represented by Chancellor Angela Merkel and several ministers of her federal cabinet. The United States is led by Vice-President Mike Pence, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and several US Senators. Russia sent its Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Among the Heads of State and Heads of Government is also Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and the President of the Ukraine, Petro Poroschenko.

First speaker of the conference was Germany’s Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen who inaugurated the conference together with her British counterpart, UK Defence Minister Gavin Williamson. Von der Leyen said that the German defence budget has been increased by 36 percent since 2014 and that the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) will be modernized until 2024 as planned. With respect to the US pressure on NATO allies to do more for their defence, the Minister stated that Germany remains committed to spend two percent of its GDP on defence. This goal has been reassured to NATO recently.

The British Defence Minister Gavin Williamson said that despite the Brexit, “the UK’s commitment to European security remains steadfast.” NATO needs to be the bedrock of European security. Like von der Leyen, the Minister addressed the US criticism on European defence and stated: “The Europeans should not increase two percent of its defence expenditures for the US but for themselves.” Williamson said: “NATO matters more today than ever.” He also referred to Russia’s breech of the INF-Treaty and called for a strong reaction of the Atlantic Alliance. However, the “option of dialogue with Russia should always be on the table.

The conference will continued on Saturday morning with speeches of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US Vice-President Mike Pence, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, Yang Jiechi, from China.

Prior to the international conference, the organizer had published the “Munich Security Conference Report 2019”. In a foreword, MSC Chairman Ischinger, gave a quite skeptical outlook about the present tensions in world politics: “When looking at the current state of international affairs, it is difficult to escape the feeling that the world is not just witnessing a series of smaller and bigger crises, but that there is a more fundamental problem. Indeed, we seem to be experiencing a reshuffling of core pieces of the international order. A new era of great power competition is unfolding between the United States, China, and Russia, accompanied by a certain leadership vacuum in what has become known as the liberal international order.”

Dr. Theodor Benien

According to the Chairman of the MSC, former Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, MSC 2019 will be the “most important and largest” conference of its kind due to a strong participation from delegations of the US and China. (Photo: MSC)

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