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Opening Remarks by KNDA Chancellor at Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Forum

  • Date : 2019-11-28 11:11:53
  • Hit : 11774

Opening Remarks
  Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Forum

Seoul, November 5, 2019

Distinguished Guests, Colleagues and Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, I welcome you all to the 2019 Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Forum. It is great to see the prominent senior government officials and distinguished academics from Northeast Asia and beyond here today. I would like to thank the co-organizers — the Sejong Institute and the Jeju Peace Institute — for their hard work in putting together this annual conference.

Northeast Asia is undergoing a profound change unseen in its recent history. Intra-exchanges and interactions among countries are growing faster than any other regions in the world. A significant change in the power configuration has taken place.

However, tensions from the Cold War era still linger. Political misunderstanding and mutual mistrust are still pervasive in inter-state relations. To this day, Northeast Asia lacks a regional peace and cooperation framework analogous to the European Union or Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and lasting peace regime is yet to be settled on the Korean Peninsula. The security dilemma is rearing its ugly head.

Considering the high volatility and uncertainty in the region, continuous dialogue and consultation are more necessary than ever. That is where the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Forum comes in.

  Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year has a special historical meaning to Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese. This year, Korea is commemorating the centennial of both the March First Independence Movement and the founding of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, Japan is celebrating its new era of Reiwa, and China is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its foundation.

I believe all these historical remembrances are fraught with historical meanings and connotations and provide us with a rare opportunity to reflect on the past, do a lot of soul searching, and renew our determination to pursue peaceful co-existence and co-prosperity in the years to come. I am sure this feeling is not confined to the three countries but shared by all countries which have keen interest in peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia.

The Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Forum was launched in 2014, with a view to cultivating a culture of dialogue among multiple stakeholders and promoting multilateral cooperation in the region. My government is trying to develop this forum into one of the major cooperative mechanisms which would facilitate regional dialogue and cooperation. I hope this year’s conference will be most productive in terms of expanding and deepening our understanding of challenges at hand and generating new ideas and thoughts that will ultimately lead to tangible policies and concrete initiatives.

  Ladies and Gentlemen,

On the Korean Peninsula, something unprecedented is taking place. There have been a series of inter-Korean and US-DPRK summits over the past one and a half years in an effort to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue and establish a lasting peace regime on the peninsula.

Currently, my government is trying to engage with North Korea proactively. On the other hand, we are making sure to maintain political momentum for dialogue and hold working level negotiations sooner than later. It is our belief that inter-Korean cooperation, the denuclearization process, and the normalization of the US-DPRK relationship can and should proceed in tandem and in a mutually reinforcing way.

Of course, the task at hand is very complicated and hard to solve. And it takes a lot of patience and hard work. Sometimes it is frustrating. But, we cannot give up our efforts because dialogue and diplomatic negotiations are the only way to solve the problem peacefully.

Needless to say, the peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear issue and establishment of a lasting peace regime on the peninsula hold significant bearings on regional and global peace and security. As key stakeholders, we look forward to your continued cooperation and support for my government’s efforts towards dialogue and negotiations.

  Ladies and Gentlemen,

Looking beyond the peninsula, the peace and stability of Northeast Asia is highly dependent on what we can do collectively. There is a growing laundry list of transnational issues that cannot be resolved unilaterally or bilaterally. They are climate change, environmental degradation, energy and food security, cyberspace, and most importantly, peace and security.

Recently, multilateralism has encountered mounting challenges worldwide. Unilateralism, nationalism, and populism are coming back with a vengeance. But the fact remains that the cooperative and collective approach is the best way to solve regional and global problems and that it best serves our collective values and interests.

In this spirit, I would like this forum to generate fresh momentum for multilateral cooperation by setting out new paradigms and frameworks for cooperation and by working out actionable programs and projects in the fields of confidence-building, infrastructure connection, environmental cooperation, cultural exchanges, and many others.

On taking office, President Moon Jae-in presented a vision for a people-centered community of peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia and beyond. This is a guiding light for Korea’s diplomacy. This vision and commitment underpins our on-going efforts for facilitating regional multilateral cooperation such as the New Northern Policy and the New Southern Policy which were created to expand cooperation with Central Asia and Europe and to upgrade cooperative relations with ASEAN and India, respectively. In putting this vision into a reality, we will be working closely with a wide range of stakeholders including all of you present here today.

  Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to conclude my remarks by quoting what Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” I am confident that people working together for a shared goal and a common purpose can make a big difference on the ground. I hope that our discussions at today’s forum could bring about meaningful progress for regional multilateral cooperation. Once again, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to each and every one of you for your participation and contribution to this year’s forum.  Thank you very much.