World leaders, diplomats, businessmen, military servicemen, and experts gather every year in Munich (Germany) to discuss security issues. The start of the 2020 Munich Conference is scheduled for February 14.
It is an open international discussion forum that each year brings together politicians, diplomats, military servicemen, businessmen, scientists and public activists from dozens of countries (NATO and EU member states, as well as countries playing an important role on the world stage).
Participants of the event discuss current political issues concerning the balance of power in international relations, strengthening the system of international law and democratic world order.
“Munich Conference is a place where ideas can be tested, where new alliances can be born, and where preparations can be made to give impetus to peace processes or give them a start them,” longtime forum leader Wolfgang Ischinger said to DW.
German publisher Ewald von Kleist founded the event over 50 years ago. Then it was a closed informal meeting of representatives of the defense agencies of NATO member countries discussing transatlantic partnership issues.
Until 1993, the forum was called the Military Conference and was held under the auspices of Christian Social Union Party. Since 1998, it is funded by the German government.
This year, the event will run from February 14 to February 16. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, current Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Kristalina Georgieva, French President Emmanuel Macron, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg are expected to attend.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky will be among the guests of the conference. “We are pleased to welcome President Zelensky this year. Ukraine is an important point of European policy,” the conference page reads. President's Office confirmed Zelensky's trip to Munich.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Minister of the Interior, Building and Community Horst Seehofer will represent Germany at the forum. Angela Merkel will not be present at the conference. Since 2008, she has been attending the event every two years and attended a conference last time in 2019.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the forum. The Russian delegation will be headed by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
“Normandy” in Munich
On February 4, Foreign Minister of Ukraine Vadym Prystaiko supposed that a meeting of foreign ministers of c countries could take place at Munich Conference, as Fakty reports.
German Ambassador to the Russian Federation Géza Andreas von Geyr also did not exclude negotiations at the level of Normandy format countries’ foreign ministers in Munich.
Two days later, Prystaiko noted that there was no official proposal for a meeting in this format at the conference yet.
“Speaking about a meeting at the Munich Conference, I read about it, I do not have an official proposal. I would still give the top priority to a meeting of leaders in April...I can say that I am arranging a meeting with another group – ministers of five countries whose citizens were killed in the crash of the Ukrainian plane in Iran. This group is going for sure, and will surely meet, we already have an agreement with them,” the diplomat said, as Interfax-Ukraine reported.
In the meantime, on February 10, Ischinger, the head of the forum, said that there were no plans to hold a meeting in the Normandy format at ministerial level in Munich.
“I do not know whether there is any specific plans for negotiations at ministerial level. There is no plans for an official Normandy format meeting, according to my information," Ischinger said.
It is known that during December summit in France, the leaders of the four countries agreed to hold the next meeting in April 2020. There was no talks about a ministerial meeting.
Munich Security Report
A few days before the event, the organizers traditionally published an annual Security Report. It sets the tone for the discussions of the forum participants.
The words “Ukraine” or “Ukrainian” are found in the report only 8 times (without counting those in the list of sources). The attention to Ukraine has never been this low since the beginning of the war, the European Truth agency writes.
Before that, the anti-record was set in 2018 with 12 mentions, in 2019 there were 35. This year, even in the section on the Russian Federation, there is only one fleeting mention of Ukraine, which “Putin continues to destabilize.”
At the same time, world analysts believe that the Ukrainian president has given a new impetus to efforts to end the war in Donbas.
"A new Ukrainian president has brought fresh energy to efforts to end the six-year-old conflict between Kyiv and Russia-backed separatists in the country’s eastern Donbas region. Yet if peace seems slightly more plausible now than a year ago, it is far from preordained – recent plans for a more comprehensive ceasefire and disengagement might collapse and fighting could escalate,” the report said.
In addition, the International Crisis Group ranked the world's conflicts to watch this year.The international community calls for special attention to be paid to the conflicts in Afghanistan, Yemen, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and others. Ukraine is ranked 10th out of ten in this ranking.
Report to the Munich Conference
A few days before the event, the organizers traditionally published an annual security report. This very report sets the tone for the discussions of the forum participants.
The words “Ukraine” or “Ukrainian” appear in the report only 8 times (excluding the references section). Attention to Ukraine has never been so low since the beginning of the war in Donbas, according to the European Truth.
Prior to that, the anti-record was set in 2018 with 12 references, in 2019 - 35 references. This year, even in the section on the Russian Federation, there is only one quick mention of Ukraine, which Putin "continues to destabilize."
At the same time, global analysts believe that the Ukrainian president has given new impulses to the efforts in putting an end to the war in the Donbas.
"The new Ukrainian president has brought new energy to efforts щof putting an end to a six-year conflict between Kyiv and Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas. Yet if the world now seems more realistic than a year ago, this is far from a predetermined fact. Recent plans for a more comprehensive ceasefire and disengagement (of forces and military equipment, - ed.) may collapse, and hostilities may intensify," the report says.
In addition, the International Crisis Group compiled a rating of conflicts in the world that need to be monitored this year. So, the world community calls for special attention to be given to conflicts in Afghanistan, Yemen, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, and others. Ukraine is rated tenth out of ten.