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September 28, 2021

Munich-51: A geopolitical weekend (I)

Scrupulous analyses performed starting last year (by example, by World Economic Forum, the organization that manages the annual reunions in Davos, Switzerland) convincingly revealed that 2015 if the year geopolitics made a powerful comeback on the global stage. If it was to affect globalization and international economical cooperation, as the phenomenon itself induces a state of increasing systemic insecurity and, as a result, the dynamics of investments powerfully decrease worldwide, all of these must be inventoried and pointed out based on an analysis of trends for the years to come. Past weekend – on February 6 – 7, 2015, at the Security Conference in Munich (the 51st edition of this prestigious international reunion in the Bavarian capital), these trends were evaluated, which proved the accuracy of previous predictions regarding the forceful comeback of geopolitics on the international arena, and attendants sought to identify solutions to present crises, some presenting an exponentially increasing danger for systemic stability.

The use by the several hundred attendants from various states – from Presidents and Prime Ministers to Foreign Affairs Ministers and members of Parliaments, from Government experts in foreign affairs and security experts to reputable commenters of the international press – of the Twitter app provides us a new opportunity to discover the bottomline ideas presented at the reunion and the ways they were presented – in speeches attended with focused attention, followed by Q & A sessions, in dialogues of the decidents with experts or valuable commenters, in informal meetings, in short interviews or in any other ways, on this occasion. It is obvious, as declared by Ivo Daalder, a well-known American expert in international politics, that “Wehrkunde”-2015 determined “The security policy world is descending on Munich for its annual confab–sort of the Academy Awards for Security Policy Wonks.”

The hosts seriously prepared for the events in the conference, especially that the presence of leaders with major responsibilities made the conducted discussions gain an extraordinary importance. They issued an extremely dense and concentrated analysis of the international situation, a sort of vademecum of great scientific accuracy in present international relations. Entitled “Collapsing Order, Reluctant Guardians?”, the report lists the leading trends in international security politics, providing a series of excellent maps, tables and graphs referring to present global evolutions. The title itself realistically suggests that the present security discussions refer to the global order after the Cold War, named by experts in political sciences “Liberal Order 2.0”, as Russia was the great power strongly engaged on the path of change and the “guardians”, the top Western states, showed a certain reticence to properly responding to Moscow’s challenges. Obviously, of an extraordinary importance is the fact that the global “tribe”  of decision makers and experts in security issues reunited in Munich over the weekend accomplished, according to a Twitter post signed by Wehrkunde organizer,  Wolfgang  Ischinger: “Over the weekend, more than 700 bilateral and multilateral meetings have taken place.”, enforced by Bildt: “more than 700 bilateral meetings have been held in the premises here. Hopefully some steps towards better world.” Diplomacy is working hard and the attention granted by attendants to certain  leaders is an obvious proof of the seriousness of the files assigned to these leaders. As Bildt mentioned: “Today diplomacy goes truly overdrive at #MSC2015. Everyone meeting everyone. But focus on Merkel, Poroshenko and Biden. Perhaps Lavrov”. Therefore: Ukraine is the headliner of the show, and the crucial question is that of war or peace between this country and Russia. Similarly important were the meetings of these leaders outside the frame of the reunion. By example, regarding the Iranian nuclear file, the audience was able to hear the position presented by the Foreign Affairs Minister from Teheran and, according to a Twitter post issued by Bildt on February 7, he had a meeting with his American counterpart. “Iran FM Zarif has been meeting daily with US here. Two hours with Kerry this morning. ‘We will lose together or win together’”. The last phrase quotes the public speech of the Iranian diplomat, held on the same day. Concerning the Iranian diplomat’s meetings with other counterparts, another Twitter note informs as follows: “Zarif and Kerry had ’very serious discussion’ early morning Sunday. Zarif also meeting German and France FMs today. Met UK yesterday”. Mr. Zarif is simultaneously optimistic and pessimistic, but he is eloquent in explaining that sanctions against Iran must be dropped and that this opportunity must not be missed. “If we don’t have an agreement, won’t be end of the world. Believe it is quite possible. An extension not needed”.

The undoubted conclusions of this year’s conference in Munich were not just the fact that diplomacy seems to have accepted the powerful comeback of geopolitics and is struggling – with increasing insistence – to keep things under control, but also that the global political order is still in an evolution and “guardians” are genuinely reluctant. As the Twitter post by John Kerry, the Head of American diplomacy, posted on February 8, the day all of the politicians mentioned below held a panel at the conference) puts it: “Current crises test international law, test global order we built after World War II”, confirmed by Laurent Fabius, the French Foreign Affairs Minister: “There’s one country with one single leader that does not act according to the rules agreed by everyone in Europe” or by their German counterpart, Steinmayer: “The speech of Mr Lavrov has done nothing to relax between Russia and the West“. On the first day of the conference, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg abruptly asked the question floating above the entire reunion in order to give a negative answer, which is simultaneously a sign of a careful analysis and of the decision to maintain the present systemic organization: “Is the international order collapsing? My answer is: no.”. He added in two more phrases that were also posted on the official Twitter account of Wehrkunde-51 that:“We must be able to deter any threat from any direction. We are fundamentally changing NATO’s defence posture.” and that “Cooperation can only be based on trust and respect. Respect for rules. And respect for borders.” Another Twitter post quotes through a condition established by the NATO Secretary General regarding the maintaining of a status quo of the present order: “We can prevent  an age of disorder – if we have the will”. Therefore, political will power is crucial, and diplomacy has a major role under these circumstances; we might even say that it cannot afford the luxury of any minor mistake now. Otherwise, a war in Europe is unavoidable and even limiting the one in Ukraine seems an extremely complex challenge.



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