Tabnak - Like every year, Munich, the capital of Bavaria State in Germany hosts delegations from dozens of countries and also the high-ranking officials of some international organizations in the context of the Munich Security Conference. However, in the shadow of recent international developments, from raising the nationalistic sentiments throughout Europe to the election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States, the current conference is of a rather greater importance for the participants.
In fact, keeping in mind the abovementioned international developments, the future of a unified Europe and also the security of the European countries are at the stake and this has caused the conference to become a venue to discuss the future path of EU and NATO among the other subjects. However, even in the conference itself, there is a considerable difference visible between the positions of the US and its European allies.
In her address to the conference, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted that today, Europe is faced with a difficult situation which could only be passed through cooperation. According to Merkel, radical terrorist movements and the future of EU, especially in the shadow of "Brexit” are among the most important challenges facing the European countries.
However, perhaps the most important part of her speech was when she said the EU defense potential should not be considered as an alternative to NATO. This position could be interpreted as a signal to the US, which has under its new administration showed serious centrifugal tendencies toward NATO.
Merkel also pointed out to the US demands that the other NATO members should increase their share in the organization’s budget, declaring that Germany is committed to increase its share in NATO budget to 2 percent of the country’s GDP within a decade.
After Merkel’s speech, the US Vice President Mike Pence addressed the audience, with the most part of his speech concentrated on the future of trans-Atlantic partnership. Although he reiterated the US commitment to its support of NATO, he once again called for a greater role of the other NATO members in financing the organization, warning that failing to reach this goal, would undermine the joint defense basis of the organization.
Pence’s remarks once again showed that Donald Trump’s administration is really serious in reducing the American burden in safeguarding the security of its allies and the slogan "America First” is well applicable in its new foreign policy approach.
In fact, the Munich Security Conference has been just another representation of how much the trans-Atlantic ties have become fragile and to what extent the world-views of Washington and its European allies are distancing from each other. Although Merkel warned that the EU defense structure is not an alternative to NATO, now it is not so unlikely anymore that the European powers, especially Germany will be "pushed” toward choosing between an unreliable American ally within NATO or taking the lead to form a somehow "European Approach” toward security in Europe.