Lack of defence could turn Europe into a battlefield

Lack of defence could turn Europe into a battlefield

Uncertainty about a peaceful future seemed to be the prevailing view expressed by global leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, with Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko, highlighting the explosive situation in Central Europe, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein.

Tensions are increasing between Europe, the US and Russia. Troops and arms have been deployed on the borders between Nato and Russia. Russia is rearming heavily and using threatening language.

China's rise as a global power is causing tensions with the US. But China's ambitions are creating friction with its Asian neighbours.

The Middle East, the Sahel and Libya are slipping out of control.

The forum’s Global Risk Report, a summary of a survey of what some 900 members of the World Economic Forum’s stakeholder community consider the largest risks, the impact of the risks and trends, was presented before forum held in Davos, Switzerland, from January 21 to 24, 2015.

Conflict between countries is, for the first time, now considered the biggest global risk. The risks of conflict include military, cyber and economic sanctions with regional impact. This possibility has been hardly mentioned in previous years and never appeared among the five strongest global risks.

GIS has warned of the dangers of military conflict for a number of years in its scenarios. We believed others had excluded the word ‘war’ from their thinking and scenarios.

Today’s problems have been easily foreseeable for years when thinking beyond commonly accepted opinions and analysing situations critically, without bias and using common sense.

The military hotspots around China, Russia, the Middle East and North Africa have developed predictably with a terrible logic. And they continue unfolding towards potential conflict.

It was important that the Global Risk Report highlighted these dangers, especially for Europe. It shows that although Europe is in a frozen conflict in the east, interstate conflict is not considered in Europe. But it is considered a possibility in the Asia-Pacific, demonstrating a more realistic view there.

China’s rise towards a global power is causing tectonic changes. Its ambitions, irrespective of whether they are justified or not, could result in conflict.

Conflict in Europe can be avoided by recognising the potential danger and preparing a defence, as is happening in the Asia-Pacific. Defence includes civil defence preparations and cybersecurity.

Europe’s lack of concern is really dangerous. Russia, the Middle East and North Africa are Europe's closest neighbours. It is shocking that the risk of war involving Europe is not perceived sufficiently here.

We at GIS recognise this continued danger of war. One of Europe’s biggest risks is its total lack of ability to defend itself. Europe risks becoming a battlefield of foreign interests with insufficient defence.

This has already started in Ukraine. The Balkans could be next. There is no guarantee that Western Europe will be spared.

Related reports:

Moscow’s military upgrade may force West to rethink strategy

Nato is in search of a mission

China's military rise - a conflict between ideology and modernisation

Japan’s vision to maintain peace

Only a strong defence will maintain peace in Europe

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