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02/26/2023

The Munich Security Conference

The Munich Security Conference
20230218 MSC, Munich Security Conference, Bayerischer Hof, Main Stage I: Closing Remarks by the Conference Chairman Christoph Heusgen: Ambassador, Chairman, Munich Security Conference Christoph Heusgen (L) with Boris Ruge, Vice-Chairman of the Munich Security Conference.

By Fikret Akfırat

The Munich Security Conference, one of the most prominent events of the Atlantic Alliance, was held this year on February 17-19. Around 40 leaders, ministers, diplomats and experts from more than 100 countries attended the Conference, which is now in its 59th year. Despite convening in Munich, the main objective of the meetings held since 1963 is to ensure the continuation of European countries’ loyalty to NATO.

How to resolve the problem of De-Westernization?

The main agenda of the meetings, especially in the last 4 years, has centered on the question of countering the rise of Asia in the face of the Atlantic. A main report is issued each year. In 2020, the central theme of the report was “The world is becoming less and less Westernized!” The report introduced a factitious concept of ” Westlessness”. This concept indicated that the liberal values of the West had lapsed worldwide. The 2019 report marked the fundamental problem as “reorganization of the international system” and noted a “governance vacuum in the liberal world order”. The title of this year’s report is “Re:vision“. With this double-meaning word, the report both points to ‘revisionist forces’ in the world, that is the forces shaking the given world order, and emphasizes the need for revitalization of the liberal order of the West. The introduction of the report raises the following questions:

“What are the consequences of Russia’s war on Ukraine? Is the world witnessing a revisionist moment? What are the main fault lines in the global contest of different visions for the future of the international order? And how can the coalition defending the vision of a liberal, rules-based order be enlarged and strengthened?”

The target: China

Although the report begins with references to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, it again and again draws attention to the Russia-China partnership and the two countries’ influence in the developing world. Even, the report focuses more on China than Russia. The main theme of the headings of human rights, global infrastructures, international trade, energy and development cooperation, statist policies against the free market, armaments and nuclear energy is to ‘stop’ the developing world led by China.

The report’s core idea is based on the confrontation that the US seeks to impose on Europe and the whole world. Here is what the report says:

“Russia and China promote a version of the international order in which the interests of autocratic leaders take precedence over liberal-democratic values. Liberal democracies are slowly waking up to the challenge. The defenders of the liberal vision can push back effectively if they recognize the fundamental nature of the revisionist challenge and swiftly reinvigorate their own vision of a desirable international order.”

But is only recognizing enough? According to the report, a broader coalition, including the ‘global south’, is needed to succeed in the fight against the ‘order changers’ Russia and China:

“The wake-up call provided by Russia’s war and the diffidence of many countries from the ‘Global South2 has roused them from their complacency, reminding them that the international order, just like democracy itself, is in constant need of renewal. [69] Given the grievances and widespread perception of exclusion among many states of the world, merely defending the status quo will not be enough. While the international order needs no revision, it is clearly in need of reform. To win the hearts and minds of “not yet aligned” governments and societies, liberal democracies need to re-envision the order as one that better represents the many countries that have hitherto been confined to the role of rule-takers, as one that better delivers on its promises, and as one that truly benefits everyone equally.”

In other words, to restore the existing order in a way that “persuades” the countries of the South. In fact, this is nothing but the avowal of a deadlock. The Atlantic’s method of ‘persuasion’ equates to, as always, the ‘stick’ of the ‘carrot and stick policy’. The current step to achieve the goal is the expansion of NATO. Washington is trying to transform NATO into a tool of global war against rising Asia.

Türkiye on the table

Indeed, the expansion of NATO toward the east is among the top topics of the Munich Security Conference. The urgent US agenda was voiced by NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg in his visit to Ankara two days before the Conference: “Approve the membership of Sweden and Finland”. However, the prevailing opinion in the West believes this is unlikely until the elections in Türkiye. This makes Türkiye’s position in NATO an important topic of discussion at the Conference. In addition, Türkiye’s strategic partnership with Russia is also seen as an important problem to be resolved for the Atlantic camp. According to the general tendency in the West, Türkiye, along with Russia and China, has already taken its place among the autocracies in the democracy-autocracy confrontation. Although it is true that there is a certain tension, an approach seeking ways to keep Türkiye tied to the Atlantic still prevails. In this context, the US policy towards Türkiye is not based on a close and comprehensive relationship as in the past, but on a reserved alliance characterized negotiations on individual issues. The strategy is to put pressure on Türkiye in a manner not crossing the lines that will lead it to break away from the Alliance. The US encirclement of Türkiye should be grasped in these terms.

George Soros on Türkiye

George Soros’ remarks delivered at the Munich Security Conference can be tested as a crosscheck for the lines above.

“Erdogan’s Türkiye is perhaps even more interesting. He is actively engaged with both sides of the Ukrainian war and established himself as a neutral intermediary between them. Erdogan has much in common with Modi. But, while Modi seemed to be firmly in the saddle until recently, Erdogan has mismanaged the Turkish economy and will face elections in May. All his efforts are focused on winning the elections. He has moved closer to Putin who will make Türkiye a distribution hub of Russian oil, which will give him the money he needs for the elections. He has also turned more autocratic at home.”

Cover photo: Source: MSC/Preiss

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