“New ideas for political solutions”

The Munich Security Conference (MSC) is an important forum for debates on security policy. We put three questions to Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, the MSC’s Chair, on the main points for discussion at the 49th MSC beginning on 1 February.

What will be the main subjects for discussion at the MSC, and which internationally known conference participants are you expecting this year?

Ischinger: The focus will be both on the acute crises – Mali, Syria and the dispute over the Iranian nuclear programme – and on issues that will concern us greatly in the future, such as revitalizing transatlantic relations or how we can coordinate defence policy better in Europe. We expect some very high-ranking participants with several heads of state and government and more than 50 foreign and defence ministers. I am especially pleased that US Vice-President Joe Biden will be taking part again.

What do you regard as the biggest security-policy challenges worldwide at present? And what political stimuli can the MSC 2013 provide on these issues?

Apart from Mali, the particularly acute issues in 2013 are Syria and Iran. The objective in Mali is to prevent a second Afghanistan. In Syria, the civil war must be ended to make it possible to organize a peaceful transition. In the dispute over the Iranian nuclear programme we are running out of time to prevent both a war and a nuclear-armed Iran. I hope for two initiatives in particular: new ideas for political solutions – in the case of Iran, for example, on the negotiation package – and ideas for better cooperation within the international community. The MSC is the ideal forum for this with its high density of decision-makers. At the MSC, it’s not only possible that people will meet – it’s almost inevitable.

Issues of energy supply, climate change or developments on the financial markets are being discussed more and more often in a security-policy context. To what extent will security policy have to deal more intensely with these interrelations in the future?

Developments in these fields have a direct impact on our security. Awareness among security policy-makers will have to increase further in these areas. Security policy must not wait until it’s already too late for many preventive, peaceful solutions. For instance, climate change will trigger conflicts that we don’t even have on our radar today.

49th Munich Security Conference, 1-3 February 2013, Munich


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