Highlights of 2014 Munich Security Conference

Americas, Asia, Europe, Middle East & North Africa, Regions

John Kerry, Ban Ki-Moon

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (right) greeted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (left) before the 50th Munich Security Conference. Credit: AP Photo

Yesterday concluded the 50th annual Munich Security Conference in Germany. The Conference is a 3 day global platform used to discuss international security policy. A grueling and intensive 72 hours later, our world’s foremost policy makers walked away with these highlighted accomplishments and discussions:

International Cyber Security:

  • Prompted by the recent NSA security breaches, a debate on cyber security ensued. Participants agreed that a common effort for improvement must be implemented.

Peace in Southeastern Europe:

  • After 220 hours of dialogue, Kosovo and Serbia achieved a peace agreement.

More of the Same in Syria:

  • A discussion led by UN Envoy to the Middle East Brahimi on the Syrian Civil War revealed disappointment with the Assad regime, but no progress with Geneva II.
  • Prince Turki Al Faisal of Saudi Arabia accused Assad of genocide and the West (except France) of ignoring the Syrian people.
  • The debate concluded that the UN Security Council needed to increase its’ efforts and countermeasures.

Progress in Iran:

  • U.S. Senator Chris Murphy says the U.S. Senate will not vote on a new round of U.S. sanctions.
  • Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif says they should reopen human rights talks with the European Union.
  • Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of Defense Hagel stand by disarmament deal with Iran.

U.S. Perspective:

U.S. officials who attended the conference used the platform to push their support for the Obama administration and certain agenda items.

Kerry’s speech called for the investment in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), a trade investment agreement meant to promote economic growth in the United States and the European Union. T-TIP aims to open EU markets, strengthen rules-based investment, eliminate all tariffs, and promote global competitiveness.

Kerry spoke in support of the chemical weapons deal with Syria, the arms deal with Iran, and the Israel-Palestine peace talks. He also voiced support for Ukraine’s protests, but pledged no U.S. involvement.

Hagel led with what he labeled a successful operation in Afghanistan, followed by support of the French in the Central African Republic. He also spoke on military partnerships with countries such as the U.K. and Spain, and echoed Kerry’s call for a transatlantic renaissance.

Hagel concluded with a defense of the U.S. shrinking defense budget, and a promise to further U.S. influence by working with international allies.

Quotes from Kerry at Conference:

“I was recently in Korea and reminded that 10 of the 15 countries that used to receive aid from the United States of America as recently as in the last 10 years are today donor countries. Think about that: 10 of the 15 and the others are on their way to being donor countries.”

“What we need in 2014 is a transatlantic renaissance, a new burst of energy and commitment and investment in the three roots of our strength: our economic prosperity, our shared security, and the common values that sustain us.”

“If we’re ambitious enough, T-TIP will do for our shared prosperity what NATO has done for our shared security, recognizing that our security has always been built on the notion of our shared prosperity.”

“Nowhere is the fight for a democratic European future more important today than in Ukraine. While there are unsavory elements in the streets in any chaotic situation, the vast majority of Ukrainians want to live freely in a safe and a prosperous country, and they are fighting for the right to associate with partners who will help them realize their aspirations.”

Quotes from Hagel at Conference:

“In reviewing U.S. defense priorities tempered by our fiscal realities, it’s clear that our military must place an even greater strategic emphasis on working with our allies and partners around the world. That will be a key theme of the Department of Defense’s upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review which will articulate our defense strategy in a changing security and fiscal environment.”

“All of us must work closely together with African nations in helping them build their security forces and institutions. A more collaborative approach to global security challenges will require more defense establishments to cooperate not just on the operational level, but on the strategic level as well.

Despite fiscal constraints, the budget that we will release next month fully protects our investment in European missile defense. Our commitment to Europe is unwavering. Our values and our interests remain aligned. Both principle and pragmatism secure our transatlantic bonds.”

“I would venture to say the United States is more present doing more things in more places today than maybe ever before. How we’re doing it is differently, and it’s what I talked about, what John talked about – capacity-building for our partners, working closer with our partners, being able to do more as we are more creative with these initiatives.”

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