MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Munich Security Conference will be held from February 6 to 8 in the Bavarian capital. This year, the conference will be attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Vice President Joe Biden.
Founded in 1962 by German publisher Ewald von Kleist, the first conference took place in Munich as an informal meeting of representatives from the defense departments of NATO member countries to discuss Trans-Atlantic partnership issues.
Initially, the conference was held under the aegis of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria and until 1992 was known as the Defense Conference (Wehrkundetagung).
Since 1998, the forum has been financed by the German government from the Defense Ministry’s budget.
In 1998, von Kleist chaired his final conference. From 1999 until 2008, it was chaired by Horst Teltschik, a former advisor to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl for foreign policy and defense matters.
Since 2009, the conference has been chaired by Wolfgang Ischinger, a German human rights activist and former ambassador to the United States and the UK.
The Munich Conference has only been canceled twice: in 1991, due to the war in the Persian Gulf; and in 1997, when the forum’s organizer declined to stay “at the helm” after his 75th birthday, and a successor could not immediately be found.
The 50th Munich Security Conference was held from January 31 to February 2, 2014.
The 2014 forum was attended by over 20 heads of state and government and over 60 foreign and defense ministers. Participants included UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, European Council President Herman van Rompuy, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry. A total of 15 panel discussions and about 250 bilateral meetings were held on the forum sidelines.
In 2009, the MSC inaugurated the Ewald von Kleist Award, given to prominent individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to peace and conflict resolution.
The first winner of the Ewald von Kleist Award was Dr. Henry Kissinger, former US national security adviser and secretary of state. Other winners: Javier Solana, a Spanish political figure and former NATO secretary general (2010), US Senator Joseph Lieberman (2012), Brent Scowcroft, former US national security advisor (2013), former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing and former German Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (2014).