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  • The 56th Munich Security Conference, Munich, Germany, Feb. 15 2020.

    The 56th Munich Security Conference, Munich, Germany, Feb. 15 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 14 February 2020

The Security Conference will be attended by more than 500 high-level international decision-makers.

Germany’s President Frank Walter Steinmeier Friday opened the 2020 Munich Security Conference (MSC), a high-level event bringing together decision-makers mostly from developed countries. 

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Until Saturday, politicians, and academics will discuss issues related to "threats" to Western economic, cultural and religious institutions.

For this reason, there will be topics such as the situation of the Middle East conflict, the ongoing tensions between the U.S. and Iran and even the consequences of the coronavirus spread.

The conference takes place in a turbulent international context, with the U.S. becoming increasingly fractious and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) internally divided. 

Although this situation will be part of the event's agenda, one word will dominate the discussions: "Westlessness" or the idea that the West "is becoming less Western."

The commitment to liberal democracy and the market economy has held the West together over the past decades, reads this year's Munich Security Report, published before the Conference.

"But today we have lost the common understanding of what it means to be part of the West and it seems impossible to come up with a strategy in this era of competition between great powers," the MSC President Wolfgang Ischinger said.

Wars in Libya and Yemen and India's blockade of Kashmir are among other geopolitical concerns of the event, which will be attended by more than 40 heads of State and Government, 60 foreign ministers and several dozen defense ministers.

Attendees will also focus on Iran in the wake of the U.S. assassination of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad last January, which provoked international outrage, raising the possibility of a major military confrontation between these countries.

While the 2020 Munich Security Conference may be the ideal framework for the U.S. and Israel to make their voices heard, no one expects them to use the event to open secondary channels, King's College London associate professor Andreas Krieg told Al Jazeera.​​​​​​​

But it would not be strange if they did. The MSC is often a backdrop for heated confrontations over narratives, rather than providing a forum to resolve security issues. 

This new edition is expected to feature U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, French President Emmanuel Macron, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, among others.​​​​​​​

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