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Five Key Points From the Munich Security Conference 2020

MUNICH - Thomas de Malzlere, Federal Minister of the Interior, Federal Republic of Germany, from left; U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, Khawaja Muhammad Aslf, Minister of Defense, Islamic Republic of Pakistan; participate in the 2017 Munich Security Conference, moderated by David Ignatius, Columnist, The Washington Post in Munich, Germany, Feb. 18, 2017. Over the past five decades, the MSC has become the major global forum for the discussion of security policy. Each February, it brings together more than 450 senior decision-makers from around the world, including heads-of-state, ministers, leading personalities of international and non-governmental organizations, as well as high ranking representatives of industry, media, academia, and civil society, to engage in an intensive debate on current and future security challenges. Official DHS photo by Barry Bahler. Date: 18 February 2017, 13:07 Source: Munich Security Conference Author: U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Attendees at the conference discussed the Coronavirus outbreak, Libya, the Iran nuclear deal, and other topics.

On February 16, the 56th Munich Security Conference (MSC) 2020 held in the Germany city of Munich wrapped up without any agreed consensus on “Westlessness,” referring to the declining role of the West in the international stage.

Around more than 800 prominent figures attended the conference, from world leaders such as France’s President Emmanuel Macron, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, as Sputniknews reported.

The event was held amid the world’s growing panic to contain the Coronavirus outbreak, which stemmed in Wuhan, China and has infected more than 14,000 and claimed more than 1,500 lives globally, the uncertain future of the Iran nuclear deal and the latest clash in Idlib, Syria.

Here are five essential takeaways from the conference:

  • The U.S vs. Europe rift: German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier rebutted Washington’s “America’s First” policy for sidelining its closest friends in his opening remarks.

“Our closest ally, the United States of America, under the current administration, rejects the very concept of the international community. Great again,’ but at the expense of neighbors and partners,” the president said, referring to “Make America Great Again” slogan U.S President Donald Trump repeatedly said.

The former German foreign minister also expressed support for NATO, stressing the role of the alliance despite Trump’s criticism that not all its members hike their expense budget.

Trump slammed Germany for failing to meet the NATO spending goal of 2 percent of its GDP in the summit in 2014 in Wales.

We’re paying 4[%] to 4.3% when Germany’s paying 1[%] to 1.2% at max 1.2% of a much smaller GDP. That’s not fair,” the POTUS said at the time as CNBC reported.

The U.S and Europe are exchanging their different approach on several issues, such as the Israel-Palestine peace deal called The Deal Of The Century. While the agreement is under criticism for prioritizing Israel’s interest, Europe called for the two-state solution.

  • The U.S and Europe agree on China, differ on the approach: Despite their difference in how to deal with rising China’s influence, both Washington and Europe spoke the same languages that there is a need to contain China.

Steinmeier stated that China, along with Russia and the U.S, makes the world less safe. At the same time, U.S delegates such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper warned Washington’s European allies not to be easily fooled by China.

Washington raised its concern over Europe’s interest in using China’s Huawei to build 5G mobile communication networks, warning that Europe had taken “a very dangerous path.”

“It is about putting the state police in the pocket of every consumer. The debate on 5G is about security, it’s about the economy, it’s about values,” Nancy Pelosi, U.S Democrat House of Representatives speaker, addressed as FT reported.

Wolfgang Ischinger, a veteran German diplomat, could not stand with the U.S endless warning over China, reminding that China should deserve more sympathy than a criticism given the mainland’s effort to tackle new Coronavirus outbreak that has spread to more than 20 countries.

“I think China deserves some compassion, cooperation, some words of support, and encouragement rather than only criticism,” Ischinger said as quoted in ForeignPolicy.

  • WHO Chief called on to stop anti-China stigma amid the Coronavirus outbreak: The New Coronavirus outbreak has sparked worldwide panic as the virus has killed more than 1,500 globally so far.

The pandemic has also triggered anti-Asia sentiments as numerous people of Asian descent faced discrimination worldwide, as CNBC reported.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on world leaders to stop creating anti-China stigmas amid the ongoing outbreak.

“It is easy to blame; it’s easy to politicize, it’s harder to tackle a problem together and find solutions together. We will all learn lessons from this outbreak, but now is not the time for reclamations or politicization,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus briefed in the conference.

Numerous countries have evacuated their citizens from China due to the virus’ widespread. Researchers are also busy discovering the most effective vaccine to contain the virus with symptoms similar to those of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).

  • European Union (E.U) tries its best to save the Iran nuclear deal: The E.U Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell stated that the bloc was committed to saving the near-collapse Iran nuclear deal, or known as the Joint Comprehensive Plans Of Action (JCPOA) on the sidelines of the conference.

“As coordinator, I remain committed to listen to all sides and keep the #NuclearDeal alive,” the Spanish diplomat tweeted after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as Tehrantimes reported.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif slammed Trump for following the wrong advice by pulling out from the JCPOA. In 2018, the White House announced its formal withdrawal from the agreement signed in 2015 as Trump blasted the agreement for not being adequate for pushing Iran to halt its nuclear ambition.

He added that Iran was willing to return to the JCPOA as long as Europe could bring “meaningful” economic benefit given the U.S-backed sanctions have severely damaged Iran’s economy.

“We will decide whether what Europe does is sufficient to slow down or to reverse some steps — we have not even ruled out reversing some of the steps that we have taken,” Zarif said in the conference as RFERL quoted.

The U.S-Iran tension has intensified since the former’s withdrawal from the JCPOA. On January 3, the conflict reached its peak after the U.S killed Iran’s most influential military commander General Qasem Soleimani in a drone attack in Baghdad, Iraq.

  • Ceasefire in Libya: Several countries and regional diplomats launched an international committee aimed at monitoring arms embargo in Libya on the third day of the conference.

German’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, as DW quoted, said that the committee was the concrete result of the Berlin conference in last January, adding that the newly-established panel would also supervise the intra-Libya dialogue set up by the United Nations (U.N). Maas also stressed that the E.U and the African Union would contribute to this scheme.

“A resolution will be found that contains an EU contribution to the enforcement of the weapons embargo, in a way that is acceptable for all EU member states,” Maas stated, adding that the African Union had to contribute to this solution.

Since Muammar Gaddafi was ousted then killed in 2011, two factions emerged in Libya, each claiming to be the country’s legitimate government; Khalifa Hifter in Libya’s eastern part supported mainly by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt, and the U.N-recognized Government National Agreement (GNA) in Tripoli.

Yasmeen Rasidi

Yasmeen is a writer and political science graduate of the National University, Jakarta. She covers a variety of topics for Citizen Truth including the Asia and Pacific region, international conflicts and press freedom issues. Yasmeen had worked for Xinhua Indonesia and GeoStrategist previously. She writes from Jakarta, Indonesia.

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1 Comment

  1. Larry N. Stout February 18, 2020

    The EU pays lip-service to a two-state solution in occupied Palestine, but does absolutely nothing to make it happen. And the EU pays lip-service to preserving the Iran treaty, but does absolutely nothing to make it happen.

    NATO has been the aggressor in Europe, both before and since the collapse of the Soviet Union. NATO forced Russia to annex Crimea.


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