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Speech by KNDA Chancellor at Minister's Panel Ⅱ of the Third Indian Ocean Conference
**Chancellor Cho's speech starts from 33:48
Speech by Chancellor of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy,
Delivered at the 3rd Indian Ocean Conference
Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Let me, first of all, take this opportunity to extend my sincere appreciation to the India Foundation and its partners from Vietnam, Singapore and Bangladesh, as well as government of Vietnam, for successfully hosting this conference.
I had the privilege of attending and addressing the second Conference in Colombo, last year. Since then, the importance of this Conference has only been growing.
(Building Regional Architectures)
The Asia-Pacific region is now being lumped with the Indian Ocean region. For a free-trading nation like Korea, the Indo-Pacific is emblematic of economic prosperity. Our vital interests lie with the Indo-Pacific because it is an indispensable conduit for Korea’s exports and energy imports: 85% of its energy supply comes from the Middle East across the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean is Korea’s key trade route as well.
Safeguarding the peace and stability of the region, especially the freedom of navigation and over-flight, is critically important for Korea.
Recently, the international policy community has been paying greater attention to how to build regional architectures that ensure people-to-people exchange, mutual prosperity, and peace in the Indo-Pacific region.
A number of new ideas and creative initiatives have been proposed and some of them have already been put into practices.
There have been Japan’s “free and open Indo-Pacific” strategy, India’s “Act East Policy”, and Indonesia’s version of the Indo-Pacific.
The term “Indo-Pacific” has gained universal currency when U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled his vision for a “free and open Indo-Pacific” November last year. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added details to this strategy by announcing “America’s Indo-Pacific Economic Vision” last month.
China has also put forward it’s Belt and Road Initiative as a means to enhance regional connectivity. A central tenet common to these various initiatives is how to bolster regional connectivity.
Korea welcomes, and is open to, these various initiatives and ready to join forces to enhance digital and physical connectivity in the region.
In the process of building regional architectures, I believe we need to consider at least the following three principles:
First, any kind of initiatives for building regional architectures in the Indo-Pacific should be based on open regionalism. Korea supports an open, transparent and inclusive regional architecture, where all the players live in harmony for peace and prosperity, while respecting each other and abiding by international laws.
Second, any emerging regional architectures should promote multilateral norms and institutions. It is imperative that trade be open, disputes be resolved peacefully, and the potential of mutually beneficial cooperation be fully realized under the auspices of multilateral norms and institutions.
Third, future regional architectures should be built upon the existing institutional resources. In this respect, ASEAN-led multilateral institutions, such as ARF, ADMM+ and EAS, should be fully utilized. In particular, EAS, whose membership includes 18 nations in the Indo-Pacific, can be a solid platform on which we can build open and multilateral regional architectures.
Korea fully supports the critical role that ASEAN has been playing in promoting regional cooperation. ASEAN centrality is an important institutional asset in the future regional architecture building process.
(The New Southern Policy)
The Korean government’s “New Southern Policy” also aims to create an open, transparent, and inclusive Indo-Pacific by strengthening its partnership with countries in this region.
As a matter of fact, Korea’s diplomatic vision so far has been mostly confined to Northeast Asia due to geo-political, economic as well as historical reasons. The “New Southern Policy” will provide Korea a new framework through which it can reach out to our partners and friends in ASEAN and the Indian Ocean region.
During his visit to India and ASEAN countries, President Moon Jae-in announced his vision to significantly bolster partnerships on 3Ps: namely, people, peace, prosperity, and to work towards fostering a future-oriented relationship.
In particular, Korea aspires to be a reliable partner in working together to bring about practical and mutually beneficial cooperation.
For instance, President Moon, during his visit to India in July this year, agreed with Prime Minister Modi, to establish the “India-Korea Centre for Research and Innovation Cooperation” and the “India-Korea Future Strategy Group” to jointly develop information and communications technology and advanced manufacturing technology.
With Singapore, Korea launched a new cooperative partnership in the area of digital technology that would contribute to advancing the ASEAN Smart Cities Network.
Korea also pledged to triple its Mekong Cooperation Fund by 2020, and expand on technology transfer and job training programs for SMEs in ASEAN countries.
(The Korean Peninsula and Inter-Korean Relations)
In Northeast Asia, the task of building a lasting and stable regional security architecture still remains an unaccomplished task.
In September 2005, in the context of the Six-Party talks, we once spelled out a shared vision for establishing a multilateral security arrangement in Northeast Asia. However, with the nuclear impasse afterwards, the idea has never come to fruition.
Only recently, we find a silver-lining on the horizon as the prospect for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula looks brighter than ever before.
What makes it unique this time is the fact that top leaders are prompting the denuclearization process. Decisions are made at the top and delegated to the working-level for implementation. This is an unprecedented procedure and that, I believe, makes its success more probable than ever.
Second, at its Party Central Committee meeting in April this year, North Korea officially terminated its policy of parallel development of nuclear buildup and economic growth, and announced a new strategic line that focuses on economic development.
In order for North Korea to develop economy, international sanctions must be lifted, which in turn can be achieved only when it takes substantial denuclearization measures.
At issue now is a declaration to end the Korean War that settled into an uneasy truce in 1953.
An end-of-war declaration can simply be a political and symbolic measure, pending the ultimate establishment of a permanent peace regime on the Peninsula.
Nevertheless, it can have its own merits. It would help ease tensions on the Peninsula and provide North Korea with a room to envision a new political imagination that would chart a totally different future path for North Korea.
It is entirely possible that this new political imagination would lead North Korea to the imperatives of economic development, the mitigation of sanctions, and denuclearization, thereby creating a positive cycle that inter-locks paths toward economic prosperity and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
It is, of course, absolutely necessary that an end-of-war declaration should be adopted in tandem with Pyongyang to take concrete measures to halt its nuclear weapons program.
A Korean Peninsula without nuclear threat is a sure way to normalize North Korea’s relations with South Korea, the U.S., and Japan. In this respect, denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula is the key to building a lasting regional security architecture in Northeast Asia.
I have no doubt this Indian Ocean Conference is providing a valuable opportunity for all of us to share insights into creating open, transparent and inclusive regional architectures in the Indo-Pacific.
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