10 February 2009


The 45th Munich Security Conference has been and gone. Presidents, Prime Ministers, Generals and more given their speeches, had their private meetings and gone home.

On Saturday Joe Biden, US Vice-President was the biggest name in town, outlining the Obama administration's new approach to foreign policy. Saturday was also protest day when anti-NATO protesters marched through the city. Around 3,500 protesters turned up monitored by 5,000 police officers.

I went out on Saturday evening after the march was over and was amazed by the number of police vehicles around the city. Even in Belfast at the height of the public order problems I don't recall seeing this many police officers. In the end there was no repeat of last year's violence.

Not that the evening was entirely peaceful. While walking through Frauenplatz I passed four Dortmund fans, in town for Sunday's Bundesliga game against Bayern Munich (3-1 to Bayern for those interested), who were in the middle of a drunken dispute involving much shouting and shoving.

Incredibly, these four guys had managed to find probably the only spot in downtown Munich on Saturday night that wasn't swarming with cops.

Spiegel, rapidly becoming one of my favourite news organisations, has an excellent report on the conference and the implications of the Obama administration's foreign policy for Europe and for Germany in particular. The conference website has video, audio and text of all the keynote speeches delivered at the conference.