Munich Security Conference
|Motto||Peace through Dialog|
|Predecessor||Internationale Wehrkundebegegnung / Münchner Wehrkundetagung|
|Formation||1963 / 2011|
|Founder||Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin|
|Legal status||Non-profit foundation|
The Munich Security Conference (MSC, German: Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz) is an annual conference on international security policy and has been taking place since 1963. Former names are Wehrkundetagung and Münchner Konferenz für Sicherheitspolitik. It is the world's largest gathering of its kind.
Over the past four decades the Munich Security Conference has become the most important independent forum for the exchange of views by international security policy decision-makers. Each year it brings together about 350 senior figures from more than 70 countries around the world to engage in an intensive debate on current and future security challenges.
The list of attendees includes Heads of States, Governments and International Organizations, Ministers, Members of Parliament, high-ranking representatives of Armed Forces, Science, Civil society as well as Business and Media.
The conference evolved from the Internationale Wehrkundebegegnung / Münchner Wehrkundetagung, which was founded in 1963 by Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin. The resistance fighter from the Stauffenberg circle advocated to prevent military conflicts such as the Second World War in the future and brought together leaders and experts in security policy for this reason. The first meeting was limited to about 60 participants; among them were Helmut Schmidt and Henry Kissinger. Von Kleist led the meetings until 1997; his successor who led them from 1999 until 2008 was politician and business manager Horst Teltschik (CDU). Since 2009, the conference is headed by the former diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger. Ischinger established the Munich Security Conference gGmbH non-profit foundation in 2011, which he has led since then.
The Munich Security Conference was canceled twice, in 1991 due to the Second Gulf War and 1997 as a result of the demise of Kleist-Schmenzin.  Under the leadership of Teltschik the Security Conference opened in 1999 for political, military and business leaders from Central and Eastern Europe as well as India, Japan and the People's Republic of China.
At this conference, under the theme of peace through dialogue, senior politicians, diplomats, military and security experts from the member countries of NATO and the European Union, but also from other countries such as Russia, the People's Republic of China, Japan and India are invited to discuss the current issues in security and defense policies.
The intention of the conference is to address the topical main security issues and to debate and analyze the main security challenges in the presence and the future in line with the concept of networked security. A focal point of the conference is the discussion and the exchange of views on the development of the transatlantic relations as well as European and global security in the 21st century.
The conference is organized privately and therefore not an official government event. It is used exclusively for discussion; an authorization for binding intergovernmental decisions does not exist. Furthermore, there is - contrary to usual conventions - no common final communiqué. The high-level meeting is also used to discrete background discussions between the participants. An exception is the presentation of global political decisions, such as the exchange of instruments of ratification for the New START disarmament agreement between the United States and Russia, which was held at the conclusion of the security conference in 2011.
From February 6–8, 2009, the 45th Munich Security Conference was attended by over 50 ministers and more than a dozen heads of state and government from all over the world, including US-Vice-President Joe Biden, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
In 2009 the MSC inaugurated the Ewald von Kleist Award. The new award highlights the political life and work of Ewald von Kleist, who founded the Munich Security Conference. The award will be given to prominent individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to peace and conflict resolution. The winners of the Ewald von Kleist Award were in 2009 Dr Henry Kissinger and in 2010 Javier Solana de Madariaga. Also in 2009, the MSC initiated a new event format, called MSC Core Group Meeting. This new and smaller-scale event was introduced in addition to the annual main, Munich-based meeting of the Munich Security Conference. The idea is to invite a number of distinguished and high-ranking participants to changing capitals and give them the opportunity to confidentially discuss current international security policy issues and develop sustainable solutions. Meetings took place 2009 in Washington D.C., 2010 in Moscow and 2011 in Beijing.
The 47th Munich Security Conference was held from February 4–6, 2011 and has again assembled top-level decision makers from all over the world, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov whilst Belarus has been excluded from the circle of MSC attendees because of the country’s human rights situation.
In 2011 two special features marked the growing role of the Munich Security Conference as center of attention of international security policy: European Union's High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton called for the Quartet on the Middle East, consisting of the EU, Russia, the USA and the UN, to meet within the setting of the 2011 Munich Security Conference and during a ceremony on the sidelines of the conference Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exchanged the instruments for ratifying the New START Treaty (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) that entered into force in Munich New START.
The 48th Munich Security Conference was held from February 2–5, 2012.
The 49th Munich Security Conference featured talks concerning the Syrian civil war. Attendees included former Syrian opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib, who offered Bashar al-Assad and his aides safe passage out of the country in exchange for their resignations. 
The 50th Munich Security Conference was held from 31 January to 2 February 2014. At the event, more than 400 international guests attended, including 20 Heads of State and Government, 50 foreign and defense ministers and 90 government delegations. Joachim Gauck was the first German Federal President to ever hold the opening speech.
In his speech Gauck called for a new German foreign policy, together with a stronger foreign policy commitment from Germany, which would show a greater self-confidence and take on more responsibility. The President referred to the Federal Republic as "the best Germany we have ever had". The country should not hide behind its historic debt. To address the federal government, he pled "not to flee from threats". Instead, Germany should "decisively and substantially stand up” in the defense of their own values. Finally, the President urged to correct the German self-image. The previous six decades of the Federal Republic as a free and stable nation should justify the Germans having "trust and confidence" in themselves. Gauck called it a requirement to be "reliable for their partners" in the world.
A dominant theme of the conference was the violent clashes between government and opposition in Ukraine. At the Munich Security Conference US Secretary of State John Kerry promised the Ukrainian opposition support from the West. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the Western countries of assisting in the violent uprising in Ukraine which was getting out of control. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on the other hand, accused Russia of violating Ukraine’s rights to a free choice of alliances. The Ukrainian politician Vitali Klitschko accused the Ukrainian government during a panel discussion of responding with acts of terror and violence to the demands of the opposition. Klitschko called for economic sanctions against those responsible for the violence. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara dismissed the allegations that his country's political policies were directed against Europe. Since Ukraine is geographically part of Europe and also carries a very close relationship with Russia, Koschara warned, it should not be faced with the decision "Europe or Russia". The Foreign Minister also declared that Ukraine had already met key demands of the opposition. His claims that the violence in Ukraine started from terrorists, was countered by Klitschko by distributing a collection of images of the protests in Ukraine to panel participants and spectators. During the conference Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, started a mediation initiative, inviting members of the Ukrainian parties in conflict and the Foreign Ministers of important EU countries to participate. During the conference, Swiss Federal President Didier Burkhalter, in in his capacity as OSCE Chairman, pointed out again an existing offer of mediation of the OSCE to the conflicting parties in the Ukraine.
Another topic was the Syrian civil war. Attendees included UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, German President Joachim Gauck, John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Leonid Kozhara, Vitali Klychko, Leonid Slutsky, Irakli Garibashvili, Traian Basescu and Štefan Füle participated in a discussion panel regarding the situation in Ukraine.
The panel discussion on the history of the Security Conference to mark the 50th anniversary had attendances from former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who both had participated in the first Internationale Wehrkundebegegnung in 1963. Attendances in the discussions also included the former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the former German Federal Minister for Special Tasks Egon Bahr, former British Foreign Minister David Miliband and the acting Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski. During the discussions, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing pointed out that the number of major wars has decreased while the level of violence, the risk of new threats such as terrorism or cyber-attacks and the number of refugees have increased worldwide. In combination with this, the former French President justified the military interventions of his country in Africa.
Henry Kissinger also shared the assessment of an increasingly complex global security situation, which hampered the development of "coherent strategies". The former US Secretary of State cited Sino-Japanese territorial conflicts that could lead to military conflict. Kissinger pushed that Europe in turn was very "reluctant to military conflicts" and was sometimes too "hesitant" in the fight against violence, a criticism that Giscard d'Estaing already accused Europe of and linked it to "discouragement". Recalling the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq, Kissinger warned however to be cautious that the decisions of military intervention should not be influenced by a "moment of rage", if willingness is not given to such wars to "endure to the end".
Egon Bahr emphasized the risks of new, hard-to-find threats such as cyber-attacks on power grids and other infrastructure facilities. These threats had even made the US vulnerable and revealed an existing inability to defend themselves against them. Bahr further demanded a policy of deterrence analogous to that of the days of the nuclear threat. Asked about the future of NATO, Bahr, Kissinger and Giscard d’Estaing all expressed their conviction that NATO would still exist in ten years’ time.
Former German Chancellor Schmidt said Europe was decreasing in importance. Schmidt stated that the consequences of global population growth were crucial for the continent's future. Europe will make up only seven percent of the world population in 2050, while in 1950 more than one in five people had lived in Europe. According to Schmidt, the Europeans overestimated their global significance. The former Chancellor critically regarded global urbanization, which leads to the "big urban masses", who were "easily led astray" by the temptations of modern media. Schmidt called the "power of the financial manager" another threat which despite the recent financial crisis was unabated. The current European Union policy, Schmidt described as a future hazard: "If the EU continues the way that it is, in ten years’ time NATO will still be there, but maybe not the EU." David Miliband described a decline of classical foreign policy and attributed this to the fact that the electorate increasingly placed regional and national issues at the center of importance.
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