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Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
The European Union is about peace. That’s the reason why the European Union was created in the 1950s. It was certainly an economic organisation but with a clear political goal: Peace. So, it should come as no surprise that the European Union strongly supports Korean reunification and is in favour of reconciliation and denuclearisation in the Korean Peninsula.
The European Union has shown its consistent support to that process. The European Union believes that it is important that the Republic of Korea engages with the DPRK so that it will be possible to make peace, reconciliation, and reunification of the Peninsula.
Speaking on my own behalf, and I want to make it clear that I’m speaking personally and no longer representing my government where I served for 12 years in different capacities including Foreign Minister and Prime Minister, or representing the European Union where I served in the European Commission for 2 Mandates, 10 years. Speaking on my own behalf, let me share with you that I believe there is an imperative of hope for the Korean Peninsula. We know the difficulties and there are certainly important difficulties and obstacles, but we know that there are also conditions to make progress now, provided there is goodwill on both sides.
We have seen before that progress is possible, for instance in 2018. But the truth is that these efforts were not sustained over time. So, we should not underestimate the difficulties and obstacles. But I continue to think that mutual respect between both Koreas can, and should be, the basis for progress towards reunification. I also think that the “3 No’s” policy of President Moon: No desire for the North’s collapse; No politics of unification by absorption; No politics of unification by artificial means, appear as a very solid ground for a constructive process.
Public participation and cooperation should also form the basis of this open process. The Republic of Korea has given clear evidence of good faith and of its willingness to make progress towards cooperation and de-escalation of tensions. It seems appropriate for the DPRK now to reciprocate, namely making some concrete and credible steps towards denuclearisation.
The peaceful reunification of the two Koreas, and the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, are very important indeed. First of all, for the Koreans themselves, but also for the whole region, and indeed, for the global community. All these matters: denuclearisation; reunification, peace and prosperity are interlinked, and at the end it’s about reconciliation, true reconciliation.
While other powers from the region, or global powers, may have a legitimate interest in this process because this process may affect regional and global peace, the reality is that it’s upon the Koreans themselves that there is a responsibility to make this happen. When I visited some years ago, as President of the European Commission, the DMZ, I could see the physical expression of that division. And that’s why I want to re-enforce that point. It’s up to the Koreans themselves to show their sincere willingness and their commitment to reconciliation. Only through that process will there be conditions for the process to succeed.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
In my political and diplomatic experience, in the European Union and in other settings, I followed several peace processes, and in some I even intervened as a mediator. In one of them, in Angola in Africa, it was a terrible civil war immediately after that country achieved independence. And I remember well that at that time, some were proposing the division, the partition of that country, so that they could finally live in peace. But at the end, since both parties, in spite of all their differences, have shown commitment to a united Angola, it was possible to achieve peace and remain a united country, and that’s what we have now, peace and unity. In the history of international relations, there are several cases of division and reunification of countries. I’m not suggesting that Korea should follow this or that path, we know well that each case is a [unique] case. It’s for the Koreans themselves to find a specific Korean way to achieve this peace and reconciliation. As it happens in any international conflict, there are internal causes and external conditions. What the global community can do, and I believe it should do even more, is to show strong support to facilitate through these external conditions. Create the best external conditions for the Koreans themselves to find a way for true reconciliation and peace.
So, what should be done now? I believe in the short term it’s critically important to resume dialogue, to create confidence building measures, and also when the time comes, to have some summits between the leaders. And of course, we have to have in mind the medium and long term, where peace and reunification can only be achieved through this reconciliation and denuclearisation process. So, we may also ask, is there hope? Is it really possible to have reunification? My answer is yes, I think it is possible. It may appear difficult, but it should be possible. As Nelson Mandela famously said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
But how can we say that there is hope? Because there are some signs that it can be done. The very fact that this 7th Rally of Hope, under the overall theme, “Reunification of the Korean Peninsula” is taking place, and it is including the official launch of “Think Tank 2022”, it’s a very encouraging signal because it’s assembling experts all over the world on Korean issues, committed to find a solution. And also, the fact that this has been assembled under the overall leadership of Ban Ki-moon, it’s also a very encouraging signal. I know well Ban Ki-moon, as a friend, I know his experience, his competence, his wisdom, his persistence, and of course his love for his country. All this allows us to be relatively optimistic about the future of this process.
And let me conclude with a very sincere word of appreciation for the great work of UPF and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, for their remarkable commitment to peace and reconciliation in the Korean Peninsula. I believe all those that are committed to peace and reconciliation, all those that recognise the imperative of hope, deserve our recognition and our admiration.
I thank you all.