The West is at a crossroads: the Munich conference in the role of Navigator

The value of the 53rd Munich security conference, which opens on Friday, February 17, cannot be overestimated. The set has become in recent years the usual topics (Syria, Ukraine, Russia, terrorism) discussed there was added the internal crisis of the West, associated with the election of billionaire Donald trump as the new President of the United States.

“Trump scares me,” he admitted in an interview with the head of the conference Wolfgang Ischinger (Wolfgang Ischinger). According to a former diplomat, he was concerned that the White house did not clear of its partners. Trump became the first American President that questioned NATO and declared a priority of national interests (“US — first”).

The shock of these words in Europe has not yet passed, and the representatives of the new American administration in Munich will be the centre of attention. One of the discussions, which will be attended by the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and one of the critics of trump, Senator John McCain, called “the End of the West as we know it?”. Finally, will not remain without attention and the crisis of the European Union, caused by the planned exit from the UK.

The conference on the background of the election campaign

The future of the West, perhaps, one of the main issues that interested right now politicians and experts. The United States on the forum in Munich will be represented by Vice-President Mike Pence, the Pentagon chief James Mattis and traditionally a large delegation of military and senators. Overall in Munich will bring together about 30 presidents and Prime Ministers, as well as about 80 Ministers of defense and foreign Affairs.

In addition, the conference will take place on the background of the outbreak in Germany the election campaign for elections to the Bundestag. Expected performance of the Chancellor, the head of the conservative CDU/CSU of Angela Merkel (Angela Merkel). It is unclear whether the act its main rival — the future a Chancellor candidate from the social Democrats, Martin Schulz (Martin Schulz).

How it all began

In the media the Munich conference is often called the “Davos of security policy”, comparing her with the world economic forum in Switzerland. In fact it would be right the opposite comparison, because the Munich forum over Davos for eight years.

The annual “summit on defense policy,” as they were called, held in Munich since 1963. The initiator and the perennial Chairman was Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-schmenzin was the conference (Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin).

During the Second world war, the descendant of Prussian nobility, as an officer of the Wehrmacht fought on the Eastern front and participated in the siege of Leningrad. In the summer of 1944, von Kleist-schmenzin was the conference was part of the circle of conspirators who staged a failed assassination attempt on Hitler. After the war he worked in the German publishing business, founding the influential military-political magazine.

Russia in focus

Under the influence of the Cuban crisis of 1962, von Kleist-schmenzin was the conference decided to establish a conference of military experts and politicians aimed at preventing a new world war. In the first decades of the number of participants amounted to several tens, they were only a few NATO countries, especially the United States and West Germany, and the main theme was the cold war with the Soviet Union.

After its completion the circle of participants and topics has been expanded, in 1990-e years regular guests in Munich were leaders of countries of Eastern Europe, including Russia. It was there that Russian President Vladimir Putin said in 2007 his famous “Munich speech”, shocked the audience with anti-Western rhetoric.

After von Kleist-schmenzin was the conference the Munich conference until 2008 was headed by businessman and former adviser to Chancellor Helmut Kohl (Helmut Kohl) Horst Teltschik (Horst Teltschik), who was replaced by Wolfgang Ischinger, and that it continues to expand.

When Ischinger in 2009, created the Advisory Council which advises the President. Russia in this body is the head of Board of “Sberbank” German Gref. In addition, Ischinger had a good personal relationship with Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who became a regular at the Munich conference.

Generals and captains of business

The conference is a private entity. Although the German government also allocates funds for it, the lion’s share of the costs are sponsored by a major German business, for example, carmaker BMW.

It so happened that the conference always takes place in the five-star hotel “Bavarian yard” (Bayerischer Hof), located in the heart of Munich.

Every year for three days in February of this building filled with people in uniform. This is the main public forum, but not only. In addition to the well-known politicians in the Banquet hall, where the main performances, you can meet not only the heads of Western corporations, but also large businessmen from Russia and other countries of the former USSR.