The Munich Security Conference: Significance and Prospects for Dhaka

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is slated to participate in the Munich Security Conference (MSC) taking place in Germany from February 16 to 18.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is slated to participate in the Munich Security Conference (MSC) taking place in Germany from February 16 to 18. This will be Hasina’s inaugural worldwide visit following her re-election for a consecutive fourth term as prime minister. The international security policy conference, held in Germany for over sixty years, provides a platform for over 450 influential decision-makers and thought leaders from various countries. This includes heads of state, ministers, prominent figures from international and non-governmental organizations, and high-ranking representatives from business, media, academia, and civil society. The conference focuses on discussing crucial global security issues.

The significance of Bangladesh for the Munich Security Conference stems from its strategic positioning, its involvement in the geopolitical interplay between the United States and China, and its expanding economic prominence and sway in the area. Bangladesh’s views and involvement are vital in formulating effective policies and promoting collaboration to guarantee peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond since talks at the MSC primarily address current security concerns and manage global dangers.

Germany has expressed its intention to strengthen its relations with Bangladesh after the newly elected administration in Bangladesh won the election. This diplomatic action demonstrates a shared objective between the two countries. Mr. Achim Tröster, the Ambassador of Germany to Bangladesh, held a meeting with Dr. Hasan Mahmud, the recently appointed Foreign Minister, and extended his congratulations. The Ambassador also presented a physical copy of the greeting statement from the German Chancellor, H.E. Olaf Scholz, which was specifically dedicated to PM Sheikh Hasina. In light of this situation, Bangladesh anticipates a bilateral meeting with Germany at the conference. Bangladesh and Germany have a robust bilateral trading connection. Germany is the second-largest market for Bangladeshi commodities after the United States, accounting for over 15.6 per cent of Bangladesh’s total export earnings. A bilateral meeting will efficiently convey a favorable message to the complex bilateral relations and open up new opportunities for both nations, particularly in the domains of commerce and economics.

The primary objective of the MSC is to promote confidence and enable peaceful resolution of conflicts by providing continuous, meticulously selected, and informal dialogues within the global security community. Currently, it is the leading venue for the discussion and sharing of ideas related to international security policy. It functions as a venue for official and unofficial diplomatic efforts and creative initiatives targeted at addressing the most pressing global security concerns. In addition, the MSC offers a safe setting for informal discussions among officials, in line with its primary objective of fostering peace through conversation.

The Munich Security Conference recognizes Bangladesh’s relevance due to many crucial reasons that highlight its increasing prominence on the international platform. The conference functions as a crucial venue for tackling urgent security concerns, and Bangladesh’s strategic position, geopolitical dynamics, and economic expansion all enhance its significance in this context. Firstly, Bangladesh’s strategic position in South Asia positions it at the confluence of significant geopolitical interests, rendering it a pivotal participant in regional security dynamics. Bangladesh is located in the Indo-Pacific area, with India to the west, Myanmar to the east, and marine boundaries with the Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh’s proximity to influential countries like as India and China, together with its advantageous access to crucial maritime lanes, bestows upon it a strategic importance that must not be disregarded in debates at the MSC.

Furthermore, Bangladesh is currently caught in a geopolitical power struggle between the United States and China, as both countries compete for dominance in the area. Amidst the strategic fight for supremacy between the world’s two greatest economies, Bangladesh’s position and relationship hold significant influence in shaping regional dynamics. The MSC serves as a forum for examining opportunities for collaboration and addressing conflicts among these major global players, with the viewpoint and interests of Bangladesh playing a pivotal role in influencing conversations on security and stability in the Indo-Pacific area. Moreover, the increasing economic influence and thriving economy of Bangladesh contribute significantly to its significance in the MSC. Bangladesh has lately seen robust economic growth due to its flourishing garment industry, rising industrial sector, and investments in infrastructural development. Given Bangladesh’s increasing prominence as a major economic force in South Asia, it is imperative to acknowledge its expanding influence and economic might while considering global security and stability.

Furthermore, the economic expansion of Bangladesh offers prospects for further collaboration and alliance in tackling shared security issues. Bangladesh, as a burgeoning economy, aims to enhance its security infrastructure, counter-terrorism efforts, and marine security capabilities. Cooperative endeavors with foreign allies, supported by venues such as the MSC, may enhance Bangladesh’s ability to tackle rising security risks and foster stability in the area.

The key areas of focus for Bangladesh

The Munich Security Conference has its roots in the transatlantic and European relationships, but it acknowledges the interdependence of the modern globalized world. Therefore, the MSC strives to expand its range and include all relevant stakeholders from various geographical origins. The main purpose is to participate in conversations regarding the most urgent global security concerns. The MSC aims to address both current security difficulties and new issues that have not yet received significant attention in the security community. The Munich Security Conference recognizes that security extends beyond conventional concepts of national or military defense, encompassing several dimensions such as economic, environmental, and humanitarian aspects.

The Prime Minister’s attendance at the Munich Security Conference this year will enable the initiation of new advancements. In light of the intensifying border tensions resulting from the internal turmoil in Myanmar, Bangladesh may consider seeking international aid to compel Myanmar to uphold the integrity of the border. Bangladesh must address the Rohingya issue within the security framework, given that the humanitarian situation is increasingly posing a significant regional menace.

Bangladesh is frequently acknowledged as a significant participant in several Indo-Pacific strategies. The nation is currently at a crucial point, confronted with the task of managing its position between two significant global endeavors: the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Although the country has achieved notable advancements in several areas of development, the task of achieving a harmonious equilibrium between these two conflicting geopolitical narratives remains substantial. To address this problem and preserve its strategic independence, Bangladesh can proactively pursue strategic alliances with influential global actors in this conference.

Bangladesh, as a developing country, is seeing a significant increase in energy needs, which has garnered international interest. Despite the existence of several international efforts to encourage the use of renewable energy, Bangladesh is now in the early stages of embracing this technology. Anticipating instructions or guarantees from several parties can facilitate the progress of renewable energy development. The process of securing energy will also encompass green markets, so presenting new susceptibilities. Liberal democracies are concerned about their reliance on Beijing due to China’s prominent role in clean energy supply chains. Green technology will have a huge impact on the geopolitical battle between China and the US as they both compete for the support of Bangladesh. Bangladesh may clearly express its stance, giving priority to the nation’s energy security.

Although the world community has extended congratulations to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the recent election, several influential entities have voiced their apprehensions. Bangladesh may resolve these concerns through constructive conversation. Moreover, with the high probability of water-related topics taking center stage this year, Bangladesh has a chance to bring up pertinent environmental issues and capitalize on its impressive history of success in climate diplomacy.

Dr. Pranab Kumar Panday
Dr. Pranab Kumar Panday
The writer is a Professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi.