"The international security order today is probably more volatile than at any other point after the end of World War II." With these words, Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference, welcomed the about 300 guests of the traditional MSC Kick-off event at the Bavarian Representation in Berlin on February 13, 2017.
Ischinger gave a first overview of the topics of the upcoming Munich Security Conference and presented the new Munich Security Report. Entitled "Post-Truth, Post-West, Post-Order?", the report compiles a variety of analyses, data, statistics, infographics, and maps on major developments and challenges in international security. Ischinger's summary: "The West is shaken to its very foundations."
In his speech, the President of the German Bundestag Norbert Lammert also addressed the report's main topics "Post-Truth, Post-West, Post-Order?". In the first weeks of 2017, Lammert said, there have already been three "striking events" illustrating these challenges: the change of administration in the United States and Donald J. Trump's inauguration speech (the new president was a "living counter model" to the West, Lammert said); Britain's official request to leave the EU; and the imminent constitutional reform in Turkey. After the failed military coup, there was "a coup of the elected government against their own constitution" in Turkey, said Lammert. "And it seems to succeed."
It is yet uncertain, Lammert continued, if it will be easier or more difficult for Europe to find unity in the face of a EU-sceptic United States. But we would have to try: "Every other option would mean giving up on ourselves." It could not be acceptable, Lammert stressed, that today, where no nation state can overcome its problems alone, some are striving to retreat into their own backyards. And the role for Germany in strengthening Europe might be bigger than some wish or can imagine.
The State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Emily Haber, pointed to the manifold dangers for a peaceful coexistence in democratic societies. This would also raise the question whether we should consider our liberal democracy itself as "critical infrastructure." Despite or maybe even because of the global changes in the political environment, Haber said, the following "basic calculation" remains true: it is much easier to realize your interests together with partners than alone. State Secretary Markus Ederer from the German Federal Foreign Office also stressed the lasting value of international cooperation. This would also apply to a European approach towards the United States: "As a fragmented Europe, we will not be taken seriously in the US." Furthermore, Ederer called for more European self-confidence: "Being originally from Munich, I would say: We need some kind of 'Mia san mia' attitude on the European level." He also pointed out that the West was not entirely without blame for the "post-order" diagnosis, as some decisions of Western governments were also defying Western values or undermining international order.
In light of these numerous challenges, many people are seriously worried, Bavarian State Minister Marcel Huber said at the beginning of the event. Especially in times like this, discussion fora like the Munich Security Conference were of immeasurable value.