UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, President Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will join foreign ministers from around the world for a defence conference in Munich.
The conference will be held over 4th – 6th February 2011 and discussions will centre on themes such as cyber security and global and regional security challenges.
Opening the conference, the German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg detailed how the German army is becoming smaller, more professional and more capable. He outlined the difficulties of responding to financial concerns whilst maintaining the national interest. He underlined the importance on foreign policy consensus among the Alliance. The Strategic Concept is a “solid base” for accomplishing defence tasks, he said.
He emphasised the importance of non-violence in the Maghreb and Middle East. He encouraged Jordan and Egypt to honour their peace treaties with Israel. Minister Guttenberg explained that the Bundeswehr reforms are part of an efficiency drive and that these efficiencies must be shared across Europe. “A Europe of the future is a Europe of commonsense where there is no room for national egoism”. He called for greater harmonisation across European defence.
He explained that Sweden and Germany have suggested using the following questions to reorganise European defence:
- how can we reduce redundancies and better train together?
- which are our respective national core capabilities that we don’t want to give up?
- which capabilities are we prepared to give up nationally because other members can perform them better?
Afghanistan also remains a “significant challenge”, he said.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the effect of the financial crisis “will be felt for some time in all nations”.
“When deciding what to cut, goverments need to choose wisely… I want to highlight the importance of what I call “smart defence”… together we can prevent the financial crisis from becoming a security crisis.
“Our NATO Allies are starting the new decade further apart than ever before in terms of defence spending…”
Mr Fogh advised against dividing security tasks between “hard power in the USA and “soft security” such as training and institution building. He pointed to increases in defence spending in both India and China as well as the security situation in the Middle East and North Africa and the unpredictable long-term consequences of the events “tectonic plates are shifting”.
He warned against Europe not investing in defence, saying that Europe would be weakened by lacking hardware to back up soft power. “If Europe becomes unable to make an appropriate contribution to global security then the USA might look elsewhere for reliable defence partners”.