Belarus to host Munich Security Conference Core Group Meeting in 2018?


Belarus to host Munich Security Conference Core Group Meeting in 2018?

In the autumn of 2018, Minsk will become a platform for discussion of issues of world security, Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei told CTV channel in Munich.

The capital of Bavaria last week became the center of discussions around topics that are of concern to the entire world community today.

Alexey Adashkin reports from Germany.

Alexei Adashkin, CTV:
Munich hosted the Summer Olympics in 1972. Sports facilities erected for competitions are still in use. Those Games became the most bloody in the history of sport. As a result of the terrorist attack, 11 athletes from Israel were killed. This memorial, dedicated to that tragedy and symbolizing an open wound, was built only in 2017 - that is, 45 years after the dramatic events.

A little-known fact: an 18-year-old native of Minsk Mark Slavin was among the victims. He emigrated to Israel just three months before the fateful Olympics. It was after the tragedy in Munich that special detachments to combat terrorism began to be created all over the world.

Gina Saitz, resident of Nuremberg:
Of course, the authorities today must more closely monitor security at public events. We must continue to live an ordinary life. We should not be afraid. You cannot change your habits because of criminals.

Making the world a little more secure is perhaps the main goal of the Munich Conference, which has been held in the Bavarian capital since 1963. There are lots of threats today. To conduct a forum with the participation of high-ranking guests, the city center was turned into an impregnable fortress. Protection was provided by 4,000 police officers.

Sebastian Kurz, Federal Chancellor of Austria:
It cannot be said that in recent years the world has become safer and the environment of the EU more stable. Therefore, the discussion in Munich makes sense. We have an opportunity to discuss the situation in the European Union and the necessary changes in Europe.

In 2018, Germany for the first time in its history hosts the Munich conference without an acting government. Since autumn the country has not been able to agree on the division of ministerial portfolios. One of the contentious issues is the restriction of migration.

Nikolay Nakropin, blogger (Munich):
It happens that you come to houses, look at addresses and owners' names and see lots of foreigners. Who do we have here? Husaini. There are eight apartments in the house, and migrants live in at least three of them.

Leading parties agreed that Germany can accept no more than 220 thousand refugees a year. In 2015, more than a million immigrants came to the country. Nikolay Nakropin in the early 90s fled to Germany from the Soviet Union. Today he works in IT sector and writes a blog about life in Munich.  

Nikolay Nakropin:
We need to help people who are in trouble. But, unfortunately, in parallel to Syrians and Iraqis we have other nations, economic refugees who are trying to somehow attach themselves to the social system. I have been living in the country for a very, very long time and I've paid taxes here all my life. It's getting on my nerves, just like a very, very large part of German society.

The mass migration of peoples began for many reasons, including because of geopolitical errors. Middle East, North Africa, Syria, and Iraq. The number of hot spots is not decreasing. The main global risk today is a confrontation between the main centers of power, experts say.

Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference:
There used to be more trust between the West and the former socialist countries. However, mutual understanding evaporated. But without dialogue, without negotiations, there will be no trust. That's why I support the idea that Helsinki-2 process. That's what we all need today.

Alexei Adashkin:
One of Munich's sights is a staircase installed in the courtyard of the office building. Walking along a unique structure can last for eternity, while you do not actually move from your starting point.

It seems that the system of modern international relations is moving along the same endless route. Peace and stability is what politicians constantly talk about, but the number of armed conflicts is not decreasing. Only by building a new architecture of global security can we escape from this vicious circle.

The crisis in the southeast of Ukraine is still far from over. Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Munich proposed to introduce UN peacekeepers to the Donbass. Belarusians may be among them too.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO (2009-2014), Prime Minister of Denmark (2001-2009):
Someone may be skeptical about the idea of ​​peacekeepers. But today the most important thing is to get approval of this initiative from Ukraine and Russia. I believe that Belarus is one of the most obvious participants in this operation. There is a Minsk process - this is a good basis for the return of peace to Ukraine. The deployment of peacekeepers can become a very effective tool for the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

According to preliminary calculations, up to 20,000 military and 4,000 police officers may be required for a peacekeeping operation.

Michael McFaul, professor at Stanford University, diplomat:
If there is support - first of all from Ukrainians (for me this is the most important thing) - then, of course, Belarus could play a very good role, because the country is close to Ukrainians.

The Belarusian delegation headed by Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei held a series of talks with representatives of the EU, the USA and some countries of Africa.

Alexei Adashkin:
Every year, the forecasts of experts at the Munich Conference are increasingly gloomy. Against this background, would the Belarusian initiative on launching the Helsinki-2 process be relevant?

Vladimir Makei, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus:
Sure. And the report which was prepared on the eve of the conference says that the level of tension, the level of confrontation in the region has not decreased. We, being on this geopolitical gap between East and West, feel this on ourselves, probably like no other. For us, the main goal is to help in every way to reduce this tension.

It is necessary to sit down at the negotiating table and discuss the situation, determine the "red lines", as diplomats say. We need to identify the problems that are dangerous for all mankind, for our region in particular. And try to find compatibility points that will help us to solve big issues. That's the idea. It is simple, but very important.

It is important to start a discussion that would allow us to come to some greater understanding. An understanding, which is absolutely absent today - even the content of the discussion during the current Munich Conference speaks about this.

Alexei Adashkin:
The issue of bringing peacekeepers to the southeast of Ukraine - this was talked about a lot in Munich.Including the participation of Belarusian servicemen in this operation. How does Belarus see such a mission?

Vladimir Makei:
The President of Belarus stated about the possibility of Belarusian peacekeepers entering the region back in October 2014. After a while, they returned to this idea, but time was lost. Unfortunately, now it is much more difficult to organize this initiative than it was back then.

But, as we know, in September 2017, the Russian president proposed to deploy UN peacekeepers on the separation line. The Ukrainian side made suggestions on how it sees this idea. Therefore, the task is to bring these positions closer, to find some kind of compromise solution.

This is exactly what we were talking about with the US representative. We asked for a meeting, and it was held with the US Special Envoy for Ukraine, Mr. Volker. One can confirm the readiness of Belarus to participate in any kind of mission in this region, if this is acceptable for all parties involved in this conflict.

Alexei Adashkin:
You met with the chairman of the Munich conference. Perhaps it was possible to agree on holding a separate event?

Vladimir Makei:
Indeed, Mr. Ischinger and his secretariat suggested holding a meeting of the so-called Core Group of the Munich Security Conference in Belarus in October 2018. This meeting is a gathering of prominent leaders, politicians, statesmen in a closed format. About 70-80 people who meet and discuss the most urgent problems of the moment.

Belarus today is a place where people from different conflicting regions can be gathered. And I am convinced that this meeting, if it takes place on the Belarusian land, will also contribute to reducing tension, confrontation, which today, unfortunately, are present in our region.

In Munich in 2018, there was much talk about economy. 50 top managers of the largest international companies took part in the forum.  

Germany is one of Belarus' key trading partners. In 2017, the trade turnover between the two countries increased by a quarter. German businessmen are actively investing in Belarus.

Michael Harms, Managing Director of the Eastern Committee of German Economy:
In general, I believe that Belarus can play the role of a new Central Europe. As you know, in the 1990s German business went to the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. And now Belarus could play such a role - an interesting production place with low prices, good staff qualifications, good industrial potential. Plus, security and sustainable conditions for doing business.

What products from Belarus can be bought in the Bavarian capital? With this question we came to one of the shops in the sleeping area of ​​the city. We found herring, sea cabbage and birch sap. It turned out that all these are quite popular products among Munich citizens. The owner of the store, Dina Zhilyaeva, has recently been to Minsk twice, and now wants to expand the product range of her store.

Dina Zhilyaeva, owner of the store (Munich):
I liked confectionery in Belarus. I mean candy and chocolate cakes. This is what we could bring here. Of course, dairy products are wonderful. Maybe, we could import this from Belarus too?

The Munich conference is an informal forum. This means that no documents are signed here or official decisions made. Pedantic Germans estimated that 16,000 cups of coffee are drunk daily during discussions about security. Perhaps, once Belarusian sweets will be served to hot drinks in the Bavarian courtyard.