Veteran diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger brought more foreign policy experience to the stage of Frankfurt’s Alte Oper than perhaps any other individual could. He has served in various roles with the United Nations and German Foreign Office since the 1970s, including as an ambassador in Washington, London and Paris. For many years he was known internationally for his work as chairman of the Munich Security Conference, and was appointed president of its Foundation Council earlier this year. On the morning of the Investment Focus event he arrived direct from spending several days with government figures in Washington, enabling him to bring a fresh perspective on US foreign policy.
His general observation was that “even in Washington, there is a overriding sense of uncertainty”. By this, Ischinger was referring to the mid-term elections held in the USA in early November, which “could strengthen the forces that prevailed prior to the last presidential election” (an allusion to the presidency of Donald Trump). According to Ischinger, “we must be very careful not to underestimate the magnitude of this turning point in history, this watershed moment”. He is convinced that this change in era will not be over at the push of a button or with the signing of a peace treaty. Instead, the veteran diplomat believes we are witnessing the end of the previous order of peace in Europe, and emphasises that everything we thought we had built up has fallen apart in recent months. “This is a very serious situation.”
A way out of the war in Ukraine
Ischinger is convinced that Moscow will only be willing to negotiate once its generals come to the conclusion that their military resources have been exhausted and significant successes can no longer be achieved. “However, that situation is still a relatively long way off.” This is precisely why Ischinger is in favour of continuing to provide Ukraine with as much support as possible. The hurdles to continuing this conflict must continue to be as high and painful as possible for Russia.
According to Ischinger, it is imperative that sanctions remain in place until then. These sanctions will be vital for Ukraine and the West further down the line in negotiating the terms of a ceasefire and achieving the most satisfactory result possible. The event’s participants agreed, with a TED survey showing that 67 percent of those gathered in the Large Hall of Frankfurt’s Alte Oper believe that a return to procuring natural gas from Russia would now be unacceptable.
In an interview, Wolfgang ischinger discusses the long-term political and economic consequences of what is widely beind dubbed a historical turning point, the propects for Western democracies competing with authoritarian systems, and the role that major emering markets might play in a new divided world order.
(* in german)