Ischinger: World leaders flock to Munich to face global crises

John Kerry Übersicht München Sicherheitskonferenz Bayern 2014

Wolfgang Ischinger: As a matter of fact, the answer is no. Because of the rise in global and regional instability, because of the presence at the beginning of this year of so many pressing and urgent international conflict situations, this is actually a relatively easy conference to organize. We have an overabundance of people who want to come and speak and we certainly have an overabundance of people who want to come and participate and listen. So this turns out to be a conference where we had no need to go out and try to convince people that they should come and speak in Munich. They are all coming and wish to speak themselves. That makes it easier for us. If I wanted to be a bit cynical I could say the more crises and the more serious the crises are, the more attractive and the more meaningful probably the Munich Security becomes for those leaders who are being challenged to find solutions to conflicts and to end them.

The spike in regional conflicts has a knock-on effect on the Munich Security Conference, its head told DW. While the organizers are swamped with speaking requests, they are still holding out for one very special guest.

Wolfgang Ischinger is a lawyer and longstanding German diplomat, who is now the chairman of the Munich Security Conference.

DW: You have led the Munich Security Conference since 2008. With so many different international crises and unresolved issues happening at the same time, has this been the most challenging conference to organize so far?

With so many heads of states and political leaders planning to attend and with the recent terrorist attacks in France, will the security measures at the conference even be tighter this year than they they normally are?

I am afraid I can't say much for exactly these very same security reasons about our security precautions. But I can assure everyone the German and Bavarian and Munich authorities in charge of providing security know exactly what they are doing and they have protected this conference in the past when many, many more people demonstrated against the Munich Security Conference. I am happy to say that the number of those people who feel that this conference is either not necessary or should be opposed has diminished significantly. It is now only a small group that loves to think one should be against a conference in Munich devoted to conflict prevention, to peace in Europe and to global stability.

The conference focuses on a number of different topics. If you had to pick two key issues to recommend to people, what would they be?

Our overall motto symbolized by the publication issued befre the conference, called the Munich Security Report, is: "Collapsing order." That is what we are experiencing at this moment in time. There is no adequate and effective global and regional international governance. Rules are being broken all the time. And of course, the two most pressing conflicts which will occupy most our time for debate in Munich is the current crisis in Ukraine which is actually not a crisis of Ukraine, but of European security. We have war there. And the second, equally if not more important one, is the chaos in the Middle East symbolized by the rise of the terrorist group which is known by the name of the "Islamic State" - the instabilities and conflict situation in Syria, the millions of refugees generated by the ongoing conflict in Iraq, Syria and in other countries of the region. These two geographical conflicts, Ukraine and Syria and Iraq, I am sure, will significantly dominate the conference preceedings.

Finally, you told me last year that you would welcome Pope Francis who is very actively engaged in international diplomacy and politics to the conference anytime. Since then he has only stepped up his political involvement. Any chance we will see the Pontifex in Munich in the future?

I would love to welcome the pope to the conference in Munich. We have had, and I think that is a good start, the Catholic Archbishop of Munich as an active participant in the conference already. In other words, our communication links to Rome exist. And maybe the pope will decide to come. Not this year, I am sure, but maybe in one of the coming years.

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