At the beginning I want to thank Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon very cordially for this great initiative to discuss the reunification of Korea. First of all, I want to thank UPF for this initiative, an initiative that goes far beyond any political discussions, especially political discussions before national elections. The discussion was on nationhood, and I think that nationhood probably is one of the most precious common goods and values that exist.

Why? People all over the world are looking for freedom, they're looking for economic welfare and for security, but they also are looking for identity. Because identity is the basis for common solidarity—and also, if you look at the situation, between different nations.

With regard to the independence of nations, this discussion certainly will have quite some importance for Korea, because the Koreans are one of the greatest people of the world: almost 80 million people, almost the same population as Germany; in Europe, more than Great Britain or France, but divided. And on the other hand, the nation that managed, although there is a division within the country, to become one of the leading technological, economic, and civilizational nations of the world.

Of course, it would not be easy in this situation to talk about reunification. Why? Not only because there are different systems in the North and in the South but also due to the fact that Korea is situated in between China and Russia and Japan and also American interests due to the security belt in the Western Pacific. And therefore this has become one of the biggest challenges for world politics.

Of course, nobody could imagine, when the war broke out in 1950, that this nation could become one of the leading nations in the world. So far this is a good example that you must not think just for the moment, but in the longer term.

And if I may add a little from my own personal experience, maybe I can contribute a little bit.

I was born and brought up right at the Austro-Czechoslovak border, and when I was a child there was the Iron Curtain dividing Czechoslovakia and Austria. There was no possibility to cross the border to enter the other country, and this Iron Curtain divided not only Austria, Czechoslovakia but the whole of Europe.

I had the opportunity to watch people on the other side of the border when they were mowing the grass or just walking around, or whatever. I knew the names of all their villages and towns, but I never had the opportunity to cross the border.

I had already spent a whole year in the United States as a student before I could enter a neighboring village on the other side of the border. And in 1989 suddenly, almost surprisingly, a big change happened that nobody had expected before.

We thought that it would take years, maybe decades, until the Iron Curtain could fall, but then it came almost surprisingly and very quickly. And now we are living in a situation that it is not only a neighboring country but it is a member of the European Union, and it is easy to go there without a passport, not even needing to exchange money if you want to buy something.

And this is a personal lesson for me, because as kids and as young people we tried not to give up our feeling that we were neighbors with those other countries. We tried to move, to shape awareness, and I think this is also the challenge for Korea, even for experts.

Which means that there's hardly a chance in the coming years? Nobody really knows.

And it can go very quickly that things will change fundamentally, and for this moment you have to be prepared, but I am sure the European lesson that a divided Germany, a divided Central Europe, could be very unified will be the best lesson also for Korea.

Finally, I am convinced that this great Korean nation will have a great future. A great common future.

Let's work on it.

Hon. Dr. Werner Fasslabend, Former Minister of Defense, Austria

Hon. Dr. Werner Fasslabend, Former Minister of Defense, Austria

Dr. Werner Fasslabend was a Member of the Austrian Parliament between 1987 and 2006. From 1990 until 2000, he was the Federal Minister of Defense. From February 2000 until December 2002, he was the 3rd president of the Austrian parliament. From 2004 to 2015, he was the president of the Political Academy of the Austrian People's Party. Currently, he is president of the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES).

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