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Centre for Geopolitics

Providing historically grounded approaches to enduring geopolitical problems

The legendary Munich Security Conference assembles many world leaders and experts in the Bavarian capital every year. On this occasion it was opened by German Chancellor Olav Scholz, followed by French President Emmanuel Macron, and US Vice President Kamala Harris. The MSC is also known for its moments of high drama. Think Vladimir Putin’s fulminatory speech in 2007, which attacked the west and which in retrospect reads like a portent of what was to come. Think also German President Joachim Gauck’s impassioned plea in 2014 for his country to step up to its responsibilities on the international stage. Or think of the often noisy and sometimes violent demonstrations against the event.

This year was no different, as the reception of Chancellor Scholz’s speech oscillated between fiery applause at the start when he promised to stand with Ukraine for as long it took, to the silence which greeted his announcement later on that he would not supply any weapons which might tend to ‘escalate’ the situation. An important departure this year, the first ‘proper’ MSC since the pandemic, was the complete absence of ‘official’ Russians, and a severe thinning out of German companies and organisations involved with Russia. The demonstrations also had a new tinge as pro-Russian protestors mingled with anti-vaxxers and others unhappy with the current dispensation.

The Centre for Geopolitics was represented by Director Brendan Simms, who spoke at a closed breakfast panel on the Baltic Sea Region. It was attended by serving foreign ministers and former Prime Ministers and many other experts. This event, like the previous one on the Westphalia for the Middle East concept, was held in partnership with the German Koerber-Stiftung. It was deemed a great success and showcased the Centre’s capacity for locating current geopolitical problems in their wider historical context. Future Centre for Geopolitics panels at the MSC are already being planned.