As International Order Crumbles, Dialogue Is Crucial for Restoring Trust

In an interview with on the sidelines of the 18th Doha Forum, , where the Valdai Club held a special session, Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, discussed the risks to international order and the ways to avoid unintended escalation between the key players. 

The international order is at risk of breaking up. International relations require strong universally acceptable international institutions and rules. But both elements – the institutions and the rules –are currently at risk. 

For example, in the European theatre we have seen a breakdown of what we thought were the established and accepted rules. In Western Europe, we believe that what happened in Ukraine is an unfortunate process, which undermines what was agreed already in 1990 as the basis of the European security order. 

In the Middle East, we see very similar things, we see a war in Syria, which is now in its seventh year and which the Security Council cannot resolve. We see a war in Yemen, which is one of the most dramatic violations of the international law, because hundreds of thousands of children are at the risk of dying and, once again, the international community, the Security Council and regional organizations, are not strong enough to resolve it. 

Therefore, what we need is to strengthen and re-establish a European security architecture, which is accepted by all, of course, including the Russian Federation, and we need at least the beginning of a security architecture for the Middle East. And that again requires an agreement between Russia, the European Union and other actors, for example, Turkey and probably the United States, Iran and Saudi Arabia as the major players. 

There is a lot of work ahead, and that is why the Munich Security Conference is so active on both fronts – in Europe and the Middle East – because there are enormous risks and uncertainties, and there is also an almost total lack of mutual trust, for example, between the US and Russia, between Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as between some other players in the region. Moreover, this lack of trust carries the risk of misunderstanding, misinterpretation and possibly of unintended escalation, which is not good. That is what we need to change.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.