Munich Security Conference: a world without the West?

The three-day-long Munich Security Conference ended on Sunday. This year's slogan at the summit was "Westlessness", with participants examining the question of what defines the "West" today and how it can survive tomorrow. Europe's press praises the will to debate issues in Munich, but is only partly convinced by the visions for the future presented.

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Yetkin Report (TR) /

A courageous debate

It's a good sign that the West is capable of debating the subject of "Westlessness", the blog Yetkin Report points out:

“"It is a courageous step for the MSC to discuss where the West is going or has already gone in Munich, at the very heart of Europe. The fact that it was open to debate of decision makers of international politics from all over the world, is also an indication of the world being at the threshold of dramatic changes. ... All foreign policy and defense actors of world politics are expected to be in Munich to give dialogue another chance at a time when the number of hot spots is growing from the Middle East to South East Asia."”

LRT (LT) /

Macron's vision has several drawbacks

Linas Kojala, head of the Eastern Europe Studies Center in Vilnius, questions Macron's vision for Europe on Lrt:

“He wants Europe to make strategic decisions more independently, especially in the area of foreign and defence policy. However, this is only possible if Washington's influence decreases and Europe moves closer to neighbours like Russia. But even then a number of unresolved issues remain. The states of Europe would become very vulnerable without American security guarantees - no one in Europe wants to increase their defence budget. Announcements about planned closer cooperation with Russia may sound nice, but this has been tried several times in recent decades, essentially without success. What's more, the US is not about to bow out, at least for the time being.”

Deutsche Welle (RO) /

De-Westernisation means the loss of democracy

The Romanian service of Deutsche Welle explains its interpretation of the term "Westlessness":

“The anti-totalitarian universe of freedom, human rights and democracies is being reversed. According to Hannah Arendt, social cohesion is crumbling and turning into fertile ground for the rise of totalitarian movements. Individualism and the right to property are either disregarded or condemned. Instead, nihilism is spreading and taking on an economic control function based on Marxist and ecologically inspired ideologies. At the same time, a tyranny of minorities and political correctness is emerging, in which the freedom of expression no longer has any value. ... In this ruined, de-Westernised West, the notion of democracy, which means the rule of the nation's majority, has become void of meaning.”

Radio Europa Liberă (RO) /

Internal conflicts increasingly apparent

The three-day meeting has made the cracks in previously stable alliances more apparent than ever, writes Radio Europa Libera:

“Trends that have long been in the making became clearer at the Conference: the rifts between the Western EU states and the US are widening while Eastern Europe and Washington are coming closer in a variety of ways. France and Germany seem to have abandoned the partnership that made them the EU's 'motor' and are reverting to their old rivalries, while Russia is playing the regional card, Nato is being watered down and the conflicts are growing.”

Diena (LV) /

No longer the gold standard

The theme of "Westlessness" is the tardy admission of a global reality, Diena says:

“The first point that must be made is that even if it was unintentional, on a limited scale and accompanied by various explanations, the Conference admitted the obvious: the West and Western values are no longer the gold standard for a significant part of the rest of the world. For the so-called 'Westless world', especially the great emerging powers of Eurasia, this has been the case for almost a decade. The term is mainly used to describe how countries are distancing themselves from the global structures controlled by the Western states. It also evokes how the collective dominance of the West is being replaced by a multipolar world order.”

Respekt (CZ) /

A new vision urgently needed

The weekly magazine Respekt reflects on how the West and its model of liberalism could regain its appeal:

“The conference in Munich seems to suffer increasingly from depression. ... What the illiberal forces have to offer - the hocus-pocus about defending 'national interests' and all the 'America first' fanfare - is easy to market. By contrast what the pro-globalisation advocates and liberalism have to offer is of a defensive nature. We need to develop a new positive vision that strengthens not only liberal democracies but also citizens living in authoritarian countries, in order to restore the declining appeal of the West and increase the subtle power of its ideas.”

Der Standard (AT) /

The true visionary is Macron

France's president has not yet written off the vision of a Europe with a real capacity to act, writes Der Standard, praising Macron's speech at the Security Conference:

“He rightly insists that the Franco-German motor needs more power again. That nuclear deterrence should no longer be thought of solely in American terms. That France needs more support in its commitment to fighting international terrorism. Most people are still ducking away, but German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at least considered accepting the 'invitation to dialogue' in Munich. The vision of 'a Europe that can protect itself on the basis of its own sovereignty' remains Macron's vision for the time being. If it is ever to become reality, action is needed. Until then, Macron remains an uncomfortable but important source of inspiration.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Germany must do more

Germany should show more commitment to the alliances it has pledged to support, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung insists:

“How many times have people heard the refrain that Germany must/wants to/will shoulder more responsibility? ... France's President Macron isn't the only one growing impatient; his proposals have all too often gone nowhere in Berlin. That, too, must change, simply because Europe will not be able to compete with the great powers with fine words and pathos alone. The Germans shouldn't overestimate their clout but they should realise that the cohesion and strength of the EU, the robustness of the transatlantic relationship and hence the resilience of the 'West' depend to a large extent on them. Timidity has no place at Europe's centre.”

Duma (BG) /

European solidarity trumps transatlantic unity

After the Security Conference Duma praises French President Macron's ideas for realigning the relations between the EU and Russia:

“As a geopolitician, Macron sees no point in crossing swords with the giant neighbour Russia. ... Macron wants the EU to have its own Russia policy, one that is purely European and not transatlantic. ... By advocating this approach, he is suggesting that the US should stay out of EU-Russia relations. This is a modern version of the policy adopted by Charles de Gaulle, who always fiercely defended his country against US interference. Considering what the US has done over the past 30 years, the French President's views seem not only reasonable but crucial for the EU's survival.”