Illustrative photo – Meeting room at the Munich Security Conference.
Munich (Germany) – The three-day Munich Security Conference begins in the Bavarian capital on Friday, where 40 heads of state and government and around a hundred ministers will meet. The central theme of the event, which is referred to as the Davos of defense policy due to its importance and prestige, will be the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Organizer Christoph Heusgen said that in addition to Ukraine, politicians also want to focus on the so-called global South, representatives of South American, African, South Asian and Pacific countries received an invitation to Munich. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, American Vice President Kamala Harris, French President Emmanuel Macron, representatives of NATO, the United Nations and the European Union or high-ranking Chinese diplomat Wang I will also be present in Munich.
Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský was invited on behalf of the Czech Republic, but due to illness there is still a question mark over his participation. Czech President Petr Pavel will also be elected in Munich on Friday and Saturday, who will meet with, for example, Macron or Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauséda. Pavel, who served as Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Army and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, wants to use the meeting to establish contacts and also to call for quick military assistance to Ukraine.
Polish President Andrzej Duda, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, European Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen, and foreign and defense ministers Dmytro Kuleba and Oleksij Reznikov are expected to arrive at Munich's Bayerischer Hof hotel, the traditional venue of the conference. On the sidelines of the conference, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken could meet with high-ranking Chinese diplomat Wang I, with whom he was supposed to meet in China at the beginning of February. However, due to the incident with an apparently Chinese spy balloon in US airspace, the meeting did not take place at that time.
Russia, which launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24 last year, did not receive an invitation to Munich. The Russians did not even participate in last year's conference, which was held just before the invasion of Ukraine. At the time, Moscow refused to send its representative, citing as one of the reasons that the conference had turned into a one-sided Euro-Atlantic forum. There will not even be an official Iranian delegation, instead representatives of Iranian civil society are expected. The populist and far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) also remains a party to the conference, although in the past the organizers have invited representatives of all German parliamentary parties.
Due to the participation of high political representatives, the conference will be accompanied by strict security measures. Around 4,500 police officers will be on site. The area around the Bayerischer Hof hotel will be closed, as will the adjacent Promenadeplatz, where special corridors will be created for residents and shop customers. People also have to reckon with bag searches. The restrictions will also affect some public transport lines.
In parallel with the conference, as in the past, there will be demonstrations, of which around two dozen are reported with a total of about 10,000 participants. Opponents of NATO, peace associations demanding disarmament or the Querdenker movement want to protest here. This controversial movement, whose name means differently-minded, brings together, among others, opponents of quarantine measures or Germany's political system, supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin or supporters of conspiracy theories.
Friday's strikes at the airports in Munich and in other German cities, which, according to the organizers, could disrupt the arrival of some guests. The strike will cover regular commercial flights, government planes will be able to use the emergency airport service for landings and take-offs, according to the Verdi trade union.