German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen speaks during the 53rd Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich, Germany, on Feb. 17, 2017. The Munich Security Conference (MSC) officially opened Friday as an array of global security issues ranging from the future of the transatlantic alliance to the West-Russia relations are in the spotlight. (Xinhua/Zhu Sheng)
MUNICH, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Munich Security Conference (MSC) officially opened Friday as an array of global security issues ranging from the future of the transatlantic alliance to the West-Russia relations are in the spotlight.
This year's MSC, scheduled for three days, will see over 500 decision-makers and participants in the realm of international security from the world debating critical security challenges.
German Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen, said in her opening statement at the MSC that the Europe's open societies and way of life are targeted by sphere-of-influence politics as well as disinformation.
"We want to meet our commitment as Europeans, as Atlanticists, as a grown-up country, a reliable democracy," she said.
The key annual gathering for the international strategic community comes after last year's game-changing events such as the Brexit and the Trump presidency.
The conference agenda focuses on the future of transatlantic relations and NATO after the election of Donald Trump, the state of European Union cooperation in security and defense matters, the Ukraine crisis and relations with Russia, the war in Syria, and the security situation in the Asia-Pacific, including in the Korean peninsula. Participants will also discuss terrorism, information warfare, as well as major threats to global health and climate security.
MSC Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger told media ahead of the meeting that the event occurred at a time when the international security environment is "arguably more volatile than at any point since World War II."
He stressed at the MSC opening on Friday the "massive uncertainty" in today's world as the "most anticipated security conference in many years" kicks off and the threats EU is under from both within and from outside.
Among this year's confirmed participants are the new UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, European Council President Donald Tusk, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.
Since its foundation in 1963, the annual MSC, once dubbed a "transatlantic family gathering," has become a forum dedicated to promoting peaceful conflict resolution and international cooperation and dialogue.