1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Global security 'highly unstable': Ischinger

Timothy Jones with Reuters
February 16, 2018

Munich Security Conference chairman Wolfgang Ischinger has urgently warned of growing security threats facing the world. He told DW ahead of the Munich meeting that the danger of war was at its highest in decades.

Wolfgan Ischinger
Ischinger: Dialogue needed to create mutual trustImage: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Hoppe

DW with Munich Conference chair

The chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, said Friday that the world was facing the most serious threat of military confrontation since 1991.

"I'm worried; I think the global security situation is more unstable today than it has been at any time since the demise of the Soviet Union," he told DW in an interview.

He listed a number of threats that he considered key dangers to global security, including the risks of major conflict in the Middle East, the nuclear standoff with North Korea and tensions between the West and Russia, partly over the simmering conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Read more: Ukraine: The forgotten victims of Donbass

Inter-NATO conflict?

Ischinger said he was very concerned about the situation in Syria, where a number of powerful foreign players, including Russia, the US and Turkey, have been drawn into a long-running civil conflict.

In particular, he cited Turkey's recent offensive in the Syrian border region of Afrin, which has brought it into possible confrontation with the US, a fellow NATO member.

"What kind of crisis for NATO would that be if there was really a clash between Turkish and American forces in the region?" he asked, calling it a highly unusual situation.

Read moreTurkey's military offensive against Kurdish-held Afrin: What you need to know  

'Dialogue is necessary'

In general, Ischinger said many of the security risks were caused by a lack of trust and dialogue between different parties.

"One of the key ingredients of global stability ... is mutual trust," he said, citing US-Russian relations as one example where there would be "risks of miscalculation, misunderstanding" if there were not constant dialogue.

Read more: Is Europe bold enough to counter US ambivalence?

At the same time, however, he did not hold out the hope that the Munich Security Conference beginning on Friday was an immediate panacea for all ills.

"I don't expect the Munich Security Conference to be the place where all of a sudden, you know, by a stroke of miraculous activity, things will get better. What I do expect and what I hope is that they will at least talk to each other, the Russians to the Americans, (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu hopefully to some of the actors he doesn't like from the region."

He said he also hoped that there would be discussions between Saudi Arabia and its regional rival Iran and that talks between Israel and Iran would also be beneficial.

 World on the brink?

Ischinger's remarks echo those made in the Munich Security Report issued ahead of the conference, which bore the title "To the Brink — and Back?"

The Munich Security Conference, which will run from March 16 to 18, is likely to be overshadowed by what many see as US President Donald Trump's equivocal attitude toward traditional security partners.

Observers also fear that the United States' recently announced intention to modernize its nuclear arsenal could trigger a new nuclear arms race.

Every evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.


Skip next section Explore more