Peace and security


Munich Security Conference: Standing by each other for democracy

The escalation in the Middle East, the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, the war in Ukraine, the situation in Afghanistan … crises and conflicts are on the rise worldwide. At the same time, the far right is becoming increasingly dangerous in Europe, and former US President Donald Trump is in the news because of threats to practically revoke the NATO mutual support clause if he wins another election.

It was against this backdrop that the Munich Security Conference took place in February. This time I took part in two panels – on the crisis in the Red Sea and on the topic of “Democratic Resilience in a Super Election Year”.

On the “Spotlight: Red Sea” panel, I made it clear that we will not get on top of the situation in Yemen (where I travelled in December) and thus also the Houthi attacks as long as we do not tackle the issue of Iran. After all, Iran shares intelligence with the Houthis on which ships to target and provides them with equipment – because it is in the regime’s interest to fuel the conflict in the region. So if we don’t deal with Iran, we will find ourselves confronted with similar situations again and again.

In the discussion “Ballot Boom or Bust? Democratic Resilience in a Super Election Year “, I pointed out that democracy does not simply mean that the majority decides everything. Minority rights, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly are all part of democracy! We must never take these rights for granted, but must fight for them. Unfortunately, more and more people in politics and elsewhere attack these rights. This means that we as democrats must stick together – after all, we live in a world in which dictatorships also support each other.

A particularly moving moment at the MSC was the speech by Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Russian opposition activist Alexander Navalny. Just a few hours earlier, it had become known that her husband had died in Russian custody (although it was not entirely clear at the time). “If it is true, I want Putin and his entire entourage to know that they will be held accountable for everything they have done to our country, to our family,” Navalnaya said in her speech. And she called on everyone to fight the Russian regime together. Navalnaya’s appearance was a sign of incredible strength and resilience and made a huge impression on me – and everyone else in the room.

For me, the Munich Security Conference showed once again: We do indeed live in an insecure world – but it is also up to us to do something about it. Each and every one of us can make a difference in our own environment, stand up for democracy or fight fake news, for example. No matter how small the individual steps are, they always have an impact.

As part of the conference and the “MSC YouTube Studio”, I spoke to Jack Kelly from “TLDR News”. Topics of our conversation included energy security and right-wing populism, but also the strength of the EU and what can give us hope. You can watch the interview below.

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