What did we learn from the Munich Security Conference?

"To the brink - and back?" was the motto at the Munich Security Conference on the weekend. After this meeting of the political elite commentators analyse the most pressing foreign policy issues.

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Dnevnik (SI) /

The EU hasn't grasped what the real problem is

Many European politicians called at the conference for measures to increase the EU's military independence - also in response to Donald Trump's policies. Dnevnik argues that the US is less of a problem than other factors:

“US policy towards the EU is following a strategy already formulated by two presidents before Donald Trump. It doesn't coincide with European interests. But why should it? The ruling US elite has always believed that you should put your own interests first. 'America first' is not Trump's invention. ... The problem is not that US foreign policy doesn't coincide with Europe's interests. The problem is that the EU adopted US foreign policy as its own and submitted to it. In other words EU policy doesn't harmonise with European interests.”

De Tijd (BE) /

Netanyahu and the powder keg

Netanyahu's statements at the Security Conference do not bode well for the future, De Tijd concludes:

“In his own country Netanyahu is mired in a corruption scandal. Politicians are convinced that he must answer for his actions before a court of law. His statements in Germany fit in with this image: he wants to show Israelis that he is needed to fend off threats from abroad. The interests of the other players USA, Iran, Russia and Turkey are less clear. The European attempts to appease the situation with diplomacy are praiseworthy. ... The question, however, is whether the diplomatic initiative will bear fruit. Once a logic of war is initiated it's hard to turn things around. And unfortunately the region is all too familiar with the logic of war.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Carte blanche for new Iranian nuclear programme

The Europeans aren't getting any answers to their urgent questions, La Stampa observes:

“Particularly urgent is the question of the nuclear deal with Tehran. Donald Trump wants to 'improve' it. Europe is willing to help. But what does the improvement consist of? Because the White House is keeping mum, Washington still needs to answer this question. ... The Europeans had advised Washington not to destroy the deal. In vain. So now they must convince Tehran to accept terms that aren't contained in the treaty. But it's by no means sure that Iran will go along with this. The pact has many detractors in Tehran who are just waiting to resume the nuclear programme. Trump has given them the opportunity to do so on a silver platter.”

Trud (BG) /

Europe at the mercy of Russia and the US

The conflict between the US and Russia is the biggest threat to Europe's security, Trud explains after the conference in Munich:

“The US is building its missile defence systems in Europe and Russia has its missiles trained on European targets. Germany and France are parties to the Minsk II agreement but whether the Ukraine conflict escalates and gets out of control will depend on whether the US delivers weapons to Ukraine and Russia therefore supplies weapons to Donbass. The EU has no say on those matters that are most crucial for its security. It is a passive observer of events that have the potential to turn the European continent into a victim of conflicts and the geopolitical ambitions of non-European states once more.”

Salzburger Nachrichten (AT) /

EU not a "strong global actor"

Europe needs to react to the power vacuum left by the US's withdrawal from global politics, writes the Salzburger Nachrichten:

“It's gradually dawning on the Europeans that they need to be more independent and united on foreign and security policy. But now of all times the UK, a particularly strong player, wants to leave the EU. What remains unclear is how the cooperation is supposed to work after Brexit. The EU states need to start planning armament projects together instead of getting bogged down with different weapons systems. It's by no means clear how the EU intends to avoid competing with Nato when it comes to defence components. An EU that's a 'strong global actor', as Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said? That's just rhetoric without any bearing on reality for now.”