Munich Security Conference 2024 Grapples with Global Tensions and Challenges

While the Cold War between the East and West concluded three decades ago, ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip continue to incite significant unrest globally. Geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainty have sent shockwaves across the world. Coinciding with these developments, the Munich Security Conference 2024 is scheduled to take place from February 17 to 19 in Munich, Germany.

Before the official conclusion of the Cold War in the 1990s, Germany’s political and intellectual communities embarked on various initiatives aimed at fostering peace and security. Despite the heightened tensions of the Cold War era, the Munich Security Conference on International Security commenced in 1963, bringing together politicians, scholars, and civil society representatives. However, during its initial decade, the conference failed to garner widespread international attention, with only the United States and NATO countries participating. Over time, its scope expanded to include broader participation.

Munich Security Conference’s main organizers, Evald von Kleist and Horst Teltschick, embarked on a mission to broaden the conference’s scope. With the aim of fostering global peace and security, they devised a new framework to invite countries beyond Europe and those from the former Soviet Union. Subsequently, statesmen from diverse nations around the world have participated in the Munich Security Conference, engaging in discussions addressing various aspects and challenges of mutual relations.

Munich Security Conference serves as an inclusive platform where representatives from diverse countries come together to exchange perspectives and engage in discussions on both bilateral and multilateral issues. Throughout the conference, numerous proposals are presented concerning security matters in regional and international contexts. Participants include state leaders, political figures, academics, trade and economic experts, environmentalists, human rights activists, and representatives from civil society. The primary aim of the conference is to foster world peace through constructive dialogue.

At the Munich Security Conference 2024, a significant delegation from the United States, led by Vice President Kamala Harris and including Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken and approximately 60 senators, has arrived. Joining them are prominent international figures such as French President Emmanuel Macron, Polish President Andrzej Duda, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and numerous others.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has also attended the Munich Security Conference 2024. According to sources from the Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she is slated to address a session of the conference and engage in bilateral meetings with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. Additionally, Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar and leaders from various delegations will pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Furthermore, she is scheduled to deliver remarks at a civic reception organized by expatriate Bangladeshis in Munich.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the sidelines of the Security Conference in Munich, Germany. Alexander Montitsky, the Russian Ambassador to Dhaka, suggested that this meeting, initiated by the West, may involve Zelensky advocating for Western interests rather than his own agenda. Speaking at an exchange event with the Diplomatic Correspondents Association (DICAB) in Dhaka on February 15, Thursday morning, the Russian ambassador claimed that Zelensky sought the meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Germany. Montitsky further alleged that Zelensky may present Western proposals during the meeting, which the ambassador characterized as hypocritical. Additionally, the Russian ambassador mentioned the involvement of various actors in creating turmoil in Myanmar, alleging that China and India are selling weapons there. He also expressed regret over attempts by some Western countries to question Bangladesh’s Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) project.

During the event, the Russian ambassador sharply criticized the West, accusing them of exhibiting dualism by focusing on Ukraine while remaining silent on the Gaza issue. He highlighted this as evidence of Western hypocrisy. Regarding the current state of Russia’s relations and understanding with Bangladesh, the Moscow representative emphasized that Russia views Bangladesh independently and does not perceive it through the lens of India. He further stated that Moscow maintains its own distinct written policy towards Dhaka.

Details about the agenda for this year’s Munich Security Conference will be unveiled shortly before the conference commences. However, it is anticipated that the wars in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip, Europe’s global role, migration, the food crisis, and climate change will take center stage alongside other pressing issues. Key topics expected to be discussed include the role Europe should play in security and defense, envisioning a new global system, and the security implications of climate change.

Conference President Christoph Heusgen emphasized, “The imperative for peace and security through dialogue, which we initiated long ago, remains ongoing.” He expressed concerns that a Russian invasion of NATO territory could be a possibility if Ukraine loses the war. Observers suggest that conflicts in Russia-Ukraine and the Middle East are likely to dominate discussions at the conference.

The organizers emphasize that the fundamental principle of the Munich Security Conference is mutual discussion and fostering relationships. Over the past six decades, the conference has served as a platform for open communication and dialogue, where participants engage with each other without ignoring differing perspectives. Whether on stage or off, guests are encouraged to interact and build relationships.

Leading up to the Munich Security Conference, remarks made by former US presidential candidate Donald Trump have sparked strong reactions in Europe’s NATO countries. At a campaign event in South Carolina, Trump suggested that he would support Russia if European NATO member states fail to meet their defense spending commitments.

Despite the aims of the Munich Security Conference 2024, to address global security concerns, doubts persist regarding its ability to resolve issues such as global security, food security, environmental challenges, and economic uncertainty on a global scale.

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