NATO - UN Partnership? 41st Munich Conference on Security Policy Expands Focus

Article excerpt

The 41st session of the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy was still marked by the perennial question whither NATO after the fall of the Warsaw Pact?

The main discussion blocs of the conference indicate the direction. The presentations published in this issue of HRISQ show that the high-ranking attendees from within and without the alliance focused their speeches and debates along three (frequently overlapping) lines: Middle Eastern security (and the question to what extent NATO and/or the EU should or must become involved in that region); the interrelationship of economic development and security; and the future of the United Nations in the context of global security.

There were points of contention during the conference. The greatest stir was caused by German Chancellor Schrder's prepared speech (presented at the conference by German Defense Minister Peter Struck, due to the Chancellor's influenza). Contending that NATO had ceased to be the place where the transatlantic partners coordinated their security policy, Mr. Schrder called for establishment of a new forum for transatlantic communication.

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (in his pointedly- diplomatic persona of "New Rumsfeld") declined to comment on the Chancellor's statement during the conference, but several European delegates expressed consternation at what they perceived as relegation of NATO to the political back bench. Defense Minister Struck's and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer's attempts to clarify the Chancellor's position merely clouded the waters further.

Mr. Struck replied to questions by stressing that "shared responsibilities also mean to have a say in the decision-making process", and by repeating the Chancellor's claim for a permanent German seat on the UN Security Council. …