In 1993, faced with a remarkable development of EC/EU-ROK economic relations, the EU noted that developing bilateral trade and economic relations with the ROK were favorable for the EU. On the political level, the ROK's awareness of the EU was increased by negotiations of the Korea Peninsula Energy Development Organization(KEDO) in 1994 when Korean diplomats actively sought a stronger relationship with the EU. When the ROK government negotiated to conclude a framework agreement with the EU in 1995, it soon agreed to attach a political declaration, which entered into force much earlier than the other aspects of the agreement itself. This agreement initialed shortly before the ASEM I was announced in Bangkok during the first summit. Through ASEM, the ROK was able to strengthen its political and diplomatic presence in the EU and to diversify its choice of foreign policy actors, beyond the U.S. and Japan, in relation to the Korean peninsula.
When the Asian financial crisis broke out in the late 1990s, President Kim Dae-jung, who took power in 1998 introduced national reconstruction projects by restructuring the Korean economic system. He therefore rebuilt international confidence in the Korean economy, opening up the Korean market to foreign competition, actively seeking foreign investment. In this regard, the ROK government highlighted ASEM II as its first successful exercise in "business diplomacy", reemphasizing international support for its economic reforms. In addition, Koreans came to perceive the ASEM process in a more pragmatic way when the ASEM II endorsed a British proposal for a network of experts to provide technical advice in the financial sector and the creation of an ASEM Trust Fund. This ASEM Trust Fund was created at the World Bank to help finance technical assistance and advice on restructuring the financial sector. As of April 2002, the ROK had received $4,984,800.
The Seoul Summit in 2000 made the first significant breakthrough in political dialogue. The 3rd summit issued the Seoul Declaration for the Peace on the Korean Peninsula. Also, leaders of the member nations welcomed the first inter-Korean summit held in June, 2000. They recognized the importance of engaging North Korea not only on a multilateral level but also suggested more concrete steps such as the establishment of diplomatic relations with North Korea.
ASEM IV in Copenhagen in September 2002 adopted the Political Declaration for Peace on the Korean Peninsula. In the declaration, ASEM reconfirmed the importance of engaging North Korea in the international community through constructive dialogue delivering concrete progress and suggested the resumption of dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea. In particular, the ROK actively pursued its national interest and effectively lobbied during the preparations for ASEM IV in order to insert the suggestions on U.S.-North Korea dialogue into the declaration.
The ROK-EU Summit, on October 9 2004, was the second bilateral summit between the ROK and the EU. Many issues were discussed, including the resumption of the Six-Party Talks, ROK's participation in the G8 Global Partnership against Weapons of Mass Destruction(WMD), and the situation in Iraq. Economic issues also featured prominently. The EU reaffirmed its support for the ROK's economic reform course, and welcomed the intensification of bilateral economic and trade relations.
At the 3rd ROK-ASEM Summit which was held during the 6th ASEM summit, the Korean head of state and the EU leaders agreed that bilateral cooperative relations between Korea and the EU have steadily developed since the establishment of official diplomatic ties. Furthermore, they made a positive evaluation of the ROK-EU Framework Agreement and the Joint Declaration on the Political Dialogue signed in October 1996 noting that they have provided an impetus for extending the quantity and quality bilateral collaboration. Hence Korea and the EU have been able to gradually promote a future-oriented partnership in various fields, including politics, foreign affairs, the economy, trade, and science and technology while sharing the basic common value of democracy, human rights and a market economy. It was agreed in the summit that they would continue to work together to further expand and develop such cooperative relations.
The leaders at the summit concurred that there is a greater potential for the two-way trade and investments between Korea and the EU to further grow. The EU is the largest investor in Korea. The Korean head of state and the EU leaders reached an agreement to make joint efforts to expand collaborative relations in the future.
The leaders in the summit also exchanged views on the current situation surrounding Korea and the EU, including the future prospects for the European countries and the efforts by the Korean Government to achieve innovation and economic development. Also on the table were the ROK-EU trade issues as well as Korea's joining in the EU-led massive science and technology projects. The summit participants hoped that bilateral cooperation in trade as well as science and technology would be further expanded in the future.
President Roh Moo-hyun gave positive assessments of the EU contribution to North Korea's reform and opening up by providing consistent support to the ROK's Policy of Peace and Prosperity and offering humanitarian aid to the North. The EU leaders staked out their position on proactive support for a diplomatic and peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear issue.
President met with the Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam. President Lee and his counterpart concurred on the need to strengthen substantive bilateral collaboration in various areas, including politics and economy. The leaders took the occasion to reassess ties between the two countries since the formation of diplomatic relations in 1992 and agreed to further develop close cooperative ties in the fields of labor exchanges, security, trade, civic society and culture. On top of this, the two countries concurred on the need to adopt action plans to give shape to the partnership in the foreseeable future.
President met with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. The two leaders took this opportunity to assess the development of bilateral ties since the establishment of diplomatic relations and exchanged ideas on how to strengthen substantive cooperation. President Lee asked his counterpart to assist Korean businesses to actively participate in the development of Poland’s infrastructure, including nuclear plants, roads and international sports stadiums for the EURO Cup 2012 to be cohosted by Poland and the Ukraine. The President also asked for increased participation by Korean businesses in the procurement of training aircraft for the military. On top of this, President Lee also requested the Prime Minister to help facilitate the process of issuing long-term work visas for Korean business leaders and workers and improve the business climate.
President met with Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark. At the meeting, the two leaders gave high marks to the fact that the two countries have maintained close cooperative relations in various areas. Marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Korea and Denmark in 2009, they agreed to work together to turn the occasion into an important catalyst for further boosting bilateral collaboration. To this end, the Korean Government is planning to hold a variety of commemorative events throughout 2009 in Denmark.
Leaders and representatives who attended the eighth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Belgium on October 4-5, expressed deep concern over the sinking of South Korean naval ship, the Cheonan. On Oct. 5, ASEM leaders adopted the ASEM 8 Chair's Statement, containing the results of the two-day summit meeting in which they expressed deep concern over the incident and reaffirmed their support for the UN Security Council Statement on the Cheonan Attack, and stressed the importance of preventing future incidents. In the statement, ASEM leaders noted Seoul's effort to provide humanitarian aid to Pyongyang, supported the South Korean government’s suggestion of regularizing the reunions of separated families, and expressed hope that these steps would help genuine dialogue and cooperation between the two Koreas resume in the near future. ASEM leaders urged all countries to abide by the September 19 Joint Statement and the recent agreement reached at the UN Security Council. They also urged Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible way. They urged for concerted efforts to resume the six-party talks to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue in a comprehensive way, reconfirming support for the multilateral framework. ASEM leaders also agreed to expand cooperation on Korea's "low carbon, green growth" policy. They also adopted the Brussels Declaration on governance of the world economy, which includes ASEM support for the upcoming G20 Seoul Summit.
ASEM 9 Summit was held in Vientiane at the 16th anniversary of the establishment of Asia-Europe Meeting(ASEM). The 48 ASEM partners from Asia and Europe reflected the deepening cooperation between the two regions. Prime Minister KIM Hwang-sik attended the Summit as the representative of the Republic of Korea. At the first Plenary of the Summit, Prime Minister KIM introduced the green growth policy of the Republic of Korea such as the international organization initiated by ROK, GGGI and the establishment of the GCF Secretariat in Korea and requested ASEM partners' cooperation and support for the success of the GCF Secretariat. ASEM partners assessed highly Korea's green growth policy and welcomed the GGGI as an international organization and the GCF Secretariat establishment. At the second Plenary of the Summit, Prime Minister KIM reiterated Korea's active willingness and support for bridging developed and developing countries in the area of international development cooperation, and called on strengthening of development cooperation in ASEM.
In addition, ASEM partners agreed that the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsular is crucial in Northeast Asia and expressed their continued support for the six-party peace talk, while showing worries for North Korea's ‘all present nuclear and missile program' and emphasized the importance of fulfilling all relevant UNSC resolutions.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Kim hold bilateral meetings with the Bulgaria President, Prime Minister of Finland and Prime Minister of Poland, and exchanged opinions on how improve bilateral substantial cooperation.
ASEM 10 summit was held in Milan, Italy, on 16-17 October 2014. The meeting was attended by the Heads of State and Government, or their high-level representatives, of fifty-one Asian and European countries, the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the Secretary-General of ASEAN. It was hosted by the Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Renzi and chaired by the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy.
Under the theme “Responsible Partnership for Sustainable Growth and Security”, leaders exchanged views on economic, financial, regional and global issues, as well as traditional and non-traditional security challenges, in the spirit of partnership between Asia and Europe. Highlighting the importance of maintaining peace, security and stability, leaders discussed the way forward in creating an enabling environment for the prosperity of their people through the enhancing of links between Asia and Europe. Leaders also agreed to strengthen ASEM’s three pillars of cooperation in the lead-up to ASEM’s 20th anniversary in 2016. At the Summit, President Park Geun-hye proposed three ways to bolster Europe-Asia connectivity: upgrading the physical connections between the two continents, increasing digital connections in line with the information era and promoting cultural and educational connections.
In addition, the President expounded on her Eurasian Initiative to help increase understanding, which served as an opportunity to muster expanded support from the European and Asian heads of state.
The ASEM 11 Summit was held on July 15-16 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, under the theme “20 Years of ASEM : Partnership for the Future through Connectivity.”
At the closing ceremony, the Chair’s Statement, the Ulaanbaatar Declaration and the Joint Statement on International Terrorism were adopted. The Chair’s Statement condemned in the strongest terms North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and called for full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2270 and all other relevant resolutions. It also stated that the ASEM leaders exchanged views on ways to promote and strengthen cooperation on international and regional issues of common interest and concerns, including the human rights situation in North Korea. In the Ulaanbaatar Declaration on Asia-Europe Meeting into the Third Decade, participating leaders reviewed the progress made over the past 20 years and agreed to enhance substantive cooperation, including improving the ASEM progress for future development, strengthening the partnership, making visible accomplishments, and promoting connectivity. The Joint Statement on International Terrorism strongly condemned terrorist attacks occurring across Asia, Europe and other parts of the world and included a pledge to cooperate on responses to terrorism.
President Park Geun-hye, at the first plenary session, as the lead speaker, noted the role of ASEM over the past two decades and outlined the direction for its future development. In particular, she said that she hoped the ASEM Summit would serve as a driving force to spread free trade, inclusive growth and creative innovation in the region. For further discussions over concrete ways to achieve that end, President Park proposed that the next ASEM Economic Ministers’ Meeting be held in Seoul.
During the Retreat Session, President Park stated that the very last piece of the puzzle in completing ASEM’s vision to create “one” Eurasia is the unification of the Korean Peninsula, asking for international cooperation and mutual assistance on issues regarding North Korean nuclear development and human rights abuses.
The 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM12) was held on 18-19 October 2018 in Brussels, Belgium, hosted by the European Union and chaired by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. The meeting was attended by the Heads of State and Government, or their high-level representatives, of 51 Asian and European countries, the President of the European Commission and the Secretary-General of ASEAN.
Under the theme "Global Partners for Global Challenges", Leaders addressed key opportunities and challenges facing Europe and Asia in a world of accelerating change. They stressed the role of ASEM as the main platform for Europe and Asia to strengthen dialogue, foster cooperation including on multilateralism and tackle global challenges together.
At the Summit President Moon Jae-in boosted future-looking cooperation between Korea and Europe and reaffirmed their support for peace on the Korean Peninsula.
He also held meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Prime Minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha on Oct.19. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shared a common understanding on the need for concrete measures to boost the North Korean denuclearization process in a substantial manner. The two leaders expressed their support for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) took place on November 25-26, 2021, under the theme of “Strengthening Multilateralism for Shared Growth.” ASEM13 had been postponed two times since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Cambodia, the host of ASEM13, decided to hold the summit in a virtual format for the first time in the 25-year history of ASEM.
At the summit, ASEM leaders expressed their views about ‘ASEM’s role in promoting multilateralis’ and ‘COVID-19 and socio-economic recovery and development’ in the plenary session. In the retreat session, leaders exchanged their opinions in a free, frank and constructive manner on ways to jointly address the current and emerging international and regional issues.
ASEM13 adopted three outcome documents, namely, the ASEM13 Chair’s Statement, the Phnom Penh Statement on the Post-COVID-19 Socio-Economic Recovery, and the Way Forward on ASEM Connectivity.
At ASEM13, Prime Minister Kim Boo-Kyum introduced the Republic of Korea’s policy on the current pandemic response and climate change. Also, he explained to ASEM leaders President Moon Jae-in’s proposal for declaring a formal end to the Korean War and asked for their support.