Munich Security Conference 2017

17 February 2017
Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the 53rd Munich Security Conference

Munich Security Conference 2017

The Munich Security Conference took place from 17-19 February. Under the chairmanship of former Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger more than 500 decision-makers from across the globe discussed international crises and conflicts as well as future political and security issues. 

On Friday, German and US Defense Ministers Ursula von der Leyen and James N. Mattis started the conference with opening statements, followed by debates on the future of the European Union, NATO, and the West. In her speech Von der Leyen stressed the importance of "a stable EU" and "a united NATO". She also vowed to increase Germany's defence budget in order to meet NATO obligations.

On Saturday morning, Chancellor Merkel, US Vice President Mike Pence, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the Munich audience. Chancellor Merkel stressed the need for more efficiency when it comes to multinational organisations: "It becomes necessary to strengthen multilateral, international structures and to render them more efficient. This is true for the EU, for NATO and for the UN."

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel together with his French copunterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault spoke about strong Franco-German relations.

The outgoing German Federal President Joachim Gauck was awarded with this year’s Ewald von Kleist Award on Saturday evening.

The Munich Security Conference

Since first taking place over fifty years ago, the Munich Security Conference has been – not only, but also – an important place for background discussions away from formal protocol.

Not infrequently, the interlocutors are parties in a conflict who would otherwise find it hard to make contact. The conference is billed as a dialogue event, as a place for meetings of a non-binding nature between participants with no decision-making power.

The MSC will serve as a platform for a large number of events hosted by renowned NGOs and institutions. Among many others, the Robert Bosch Foundation, the German Development Agency GIZ, Transparency International, the Forum Civil Peace Service, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Bertelsmann Foundation, the OSCE, and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute hosted discussion rounds on the MSC's sidelines. 

The Munich Security Conference is seen as a contact exchange and an open discussion forum. It was established in 1962 as the Munich Wehrkundetagung (Meeting on Military Science), initially targeting mainly NATO members.

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