The Munich Security Conference – we need “restlessness” on the issues of climate and feminism!

Every year, the Munich Security Conference (MSC) attracts the world’ s leading diplomatic, military and political figures to the state capital. As an MEP I was there for the first time – and as a woman in the minority. During the three days it became very clear how little presence women still have at the MSC. The majority of the mostly male ministers and diplomats came with delegations consisting almost exclusively of men; during the panel discussions, dark suits were the most common sight. The MSC is making increasing efforts to make the conference more feminine and younger. The fact that the proportion of women is still around 20% is above all an expression of a structural problem and clearly shows: we need a more feminist foreign and security policy!

Europe can do foreign policy. Germany just needs to have the courage.

With the conference motto “Westlessness” (a combination of “West” and “Restlessness”), this year’s discussions focused on the difficult transatlantic relationship and what it means to be part of the West today. The motto led to numerous discussions. There was agreement that we should not cling to the old Cold War phrases. The young generation and many other people probably cannot do much with the term “westward ties” anyway.

How can the EU play a greater role in security on the world stage? What contribution can and should Germany make? Neither President Steinmeier’s opening speech nor the speeches of Defence Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer or Foreign Minister Maas gave any concrete indications of this. There was much talk about what Europe must and should do, but especially in foreign policy the EU is only the sum of its parts. And the member states, above all Germany, are not providing enough money and capacities for a common foreign and security policy. So it was significant that French President Macron was the only one on the big stage to make specific proposals for a stronger EU foreign policy. Even though I do not agree with his demands in many aspects, they were at least tangible visions, and an impetus for discussion that the German Government urgently needs to take up and respond to.

Climate crisis: sustainability and safety go hand in hand!

There was a new topic this year at the MSC: the climate crisis. Many have recognized the seriousness of the situation, but climate and foreign policy are still not considered sufficiently in combination. Despite the fact that the military is responsible for 5% of annual global carbon dioxide emissions and the US Army alone emits about 59 million tons annually. The climate crisis intensifies existing conflicts and will cause them more and more often in the future (e.g. on the subject of water shortage). This poses a serious threat to peace in the world. We must therefore become “restless” on this issue, exert more pressure on governments, the military and the arms industry so that sustainability and security are no longer seen as contradictory – but climate diplomacy becomes the central building block of our foreign policy and the many climate projects that exist also include mediation and reconciliation.

Instead of talking about westlessness, let us therefore sit down with our transatlantic partners and talk about what unites us, as societies at large and in close cooperation with like-minded people in Latin America, Africa, the Arab countries and Asia. For me, it is clear what this must be: “Freedom, equality and sustainability” – the new mojo of the West and beyond – as we termed it during a dinner with Democratic members of Congress.

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