On the occasion of the 50th MSC (January 31 to February 2, 2014), the Munich Security Conference Foundation is publishing the book “Towards Mutual Security – 50 Years of Munich Security Conference.”
In the book, numerous prominent participants reflect on the conference’s history and significance, some of the major issues debated, and on key current security challenges.
The Munich Security Conference, is a unique forum for the debate on international security policy.
So we welcome to these discussions of the Munich Security Conference, built on the unique character of transatlantic meeting.
This conference enjoys a high standing, largely owing to dedicated individuals who devote their energies to promoting dialogue year after year.
All of them deserve our thanks and recognition for the great success of the conference, which now has a long tradition. Angela Merkel the Federal Chancellor to Mark the fiftieth Anniversary oftheMunich Security Conference
For more than fifty years, American foreign and defense ministers, legislators, and academics—and even vice presidents—have regularly made the annual pilgrimage to Munich to share in an open dialogue with our closest friends and Allies on the most pressing issues affecting the transatlantic partnership and beyond.
The Munich Security Conference brings together decision-makers and opinion leaders who shoulder a special responsibility in the constant struggle for peace, freedom, and stability. The success story of the Munich Security Conference is and remains first and foremost linked to the name Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist.
As a young lieutenant, he was one of those willing to risk their lives in the resistance to Hitler. After the end of World War II, the promotion of transatlantic relations was a matter very close to his heart.
A key expression of this endeavor was the establishment of the International Wehrkunde Conference fifty years ago, later renamed the Munich Security Conference, which Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist developed within a short space of time into a central forum for exchanging views on transatlantic security policy and which he chaired until 1998.
This conference offered an excellent opportunity for Germany to actively take part in the dialogue on the global political situation.
Europeans and Americans are cooperating to tackle key foreign policy challenges. This applies—to name just a few examples— to the situation in Syria and the changes sweeping the Arab world, the Middle East peace process, Iran’s nuclear program, the promotion of democracy and stability in Mali, as well as to the fight against terrorism and piracy.
The Munich Security Conference has always addressed such topical issues and further developed its areas of focus in the spirit of networked security. Inevitably, this has also resulted in the circle of participants being expanded—a real boon for the conference—to include representatives from other regions, from Central and Eastern European countries, from Russia, and from Asia.
New forces have begun shaping the twenty-first century.
In Europe there is some political commitment to present democracy as core european value. This centres on the conviction that Europe offers a model of political harmony both within and among states that is highly relevant to some other parts of the world, not least the zones of conflict, because it shows how to rise above centuries of interstate violence.
Europe having been at the heart of two world wars and one cold war in the twentieth century alone. The political vlues on which this stability in Europe has been constructed are for Europe to demonstrate and to share, not by exporting democracy aggressively but by engaging in processes for stability and peace defined by partnership and ideological suasion.
This is relevant to North Africa and especially in Syria and many places in the Arab world, the Middle East peace process. In so far as this strategy achieves results, the international standing of the EU can be reckoned to benefit accordingly.
There were days of drama. Even days of despair: But what at the end won the day was the determination of courageous individuals – in Riga, in Tallinn, in Vilnius and – let us never forget – in Moscow too. These days it is sometimes said that the idea of Europe no longer inspires in the ways it used to.
There was a past: And our task together is to build a better future. For our own countries. For Ukraine. But also for Belarus. And definitely for Russia. A world where the values of Europe should stand even stronger than today.
But it is only by truly seeing the lessons of the past, and by working together, that we as Europe can grasp all of these possibilities. I am convinced that one day this will happen. Looking forward is
Europe coming together and be a true partner to the rest of the world for both peace & prosperity
From Speech by Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Bildt’s personal contribution to the restoration of the Baltic countries’ freedom.
Since the Cold War in 1980,, much has changed. The Iron Curtain that once divided Europe was replaced by an open door. NATO grew from fifteen allies in 1980 to an ever strengthened and more inclusive alliance of twenty-eight countries. During the same period, the size of the European Community tripled.
New forces have begun shaping the twenty-first century. We have realized that neither the United States nor Europe can afford to look inward, that instead we must engage in the world around us. And we have. Joseph R. Biden Congratulating the Munich Security Conference on Fifty Years of Contributions to Transatlantic Security
Preserving stability and peace for our children and grandchildren requires constant vigilance, dialogue, and cooperation. It requires that we strengthen our ability to prevent cyber attacks, to stop the spread of the world’s most dangerous weapons, and to mitigate the consequences of a warming planet. And it requires continued work at home, from stimulating new growth to continuing the important work of building a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace.
Today’s threats are as real and, at times, as daunting as those we faced during the Cold War. They transcend borders and nation states and impact global security and economic prosperity in profound ways. And so the work of the Munich Security Conference has become even more essential. Joseph R. Biden
All of those who have participated in the Munich Security Conference over the years know something simple and fundamental: important partnerships do not build themselves. They require hard work and constant conversation, and are best fostered at forums like the Munich Security Conference.
Munich started out as a small gathering of Germans and Americans focused on defense and security in Europe. Over time, it added other Europeans, other disciplines, and other countries. And now instead of looking inward at the Euro-Atlantic space, today’s Munich is focused on how Americans and Europeans engage in the world around us.
Today, Munich is the place to go to hear bold policies announced, new ideas and approaches tested, old partnerships reaffirmed, and new ones formed. Like no other global forum, today’s Munich connects European leaders and thinkers with their peers from across the world to have an open and frank exchange of ideas on the most pressing issues we currently face—from the crisis in Syria to the global financial crisis and its impact on security, as well as cyber security.
And while the formal discussions are important, it is the informal chats in the coffee bar and the Stuben that cement relationships, foster intellectual ferment, and bring people from disparate political stripes together, including many of my colleagues from Congress.Joseph R. Biden
I have every confidence that Munich’s best days are yet to come. Joseph R. Biden is vice president of the United States.
The conference marked the beginning of a subtle, yet fundamental shift in the German foreign and security policy. Wolfgang Ischinger, Germany’s former deputy foreign minister and the forum’s chair, should feel pleased.
Munich has become the place for open dialogue and discreet exchanges on security issues around the world. This dialogue itself is an emblem of Germany stepping up as a political, not just economic power with a global reach. And there were about as many uniformed Bundeswehr officers in the audience as those with the U.S. military insignia. The world’s security summit is over.