Dear Dr. Hak Ja Han, Mother of Peace; excellencies; participants from around the world; ladies and gentlemen; dear hosts from the Universal Peace Federation. It is my honor to speak to you at this Summit 2022 and International Leadership Conference.
Madame Dr. Moon, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to start by paying tribute to Father Moon whose passing away 10 years ago we will commemorate during this Conference. Father Moon’s tireless efforts to reunite the Korean nation, his leadership, his wisdom and charisma are still, and more than ever, a true source of inspiration. An inspiring example indeed for all those who continue to work for reunification and lasting peace.
My deep respect to you, Madame Mother Moon, Mother of Peace, for your tireless work building on the legacy of your beloved husband. Your efforts to reunite the Korean Peninsula deserve our sincere admiration. They are a beacon of hope for all your fellow citizens that want lasting peace and to be able to live together in harmony in that part of the world and those far further afield. Through all that you do, you also inspire and encourage others to get involved and dedicate their best efforts to the Universal Peace Federation as a Global Network of Peacebuilders.
Some years ago it was a true pleasure for me as the then Prime Minister of Belgium to host representatives of the Universal Peace Federation and the world-class Little Angels children’s dance troupe and choir in Brussels.
Ladies and Gentlemen, lasting peace and living together in harmony are simply obvious objectives for all human beings to strive towards. And yet, as we speak, many millions of people continue to suffer war, aggression and violence. War is back on the European continent. In Ukraine, so many innocent women and men are killed or wounded, families are divided, their homes and futures destroyed.
Dear Dr. Moon, ladies and gentlemen, I was born in the Ypres Salient, in Flanders’ Fields, in the western part of Belgium, a horrendous battlefield of the First World War. On a memorial in the small city of Ypres to Unknown Soldiers killed in battle, there are these two famous words set in stone: “Never Again.” This universal pledge, this prayer, repeated so many times, is far from being realized. In Yemen, in Eastern Congo, in Ukraine—to name just a few—and in so many other places, all too many women, children and men are suffering.
We, in Western Europe have been blessed, throughout the 20th century, by the international solidarity that brought young soldiers from all over the globe to Western Europe to fight for our freedom and security. After the Second World War, that international engagement and the collective responsibility to offer protection and safeguard peace, inspired multilateral efforts to prevent war and to fight back in solidarity with those attacked, against aggression.
The North Atlantic Alliance has, over the last 80 years, successfully protected the nations of the Alliance, and aided progress towards European integration. Even more importantly, we would wish that beyond the borders of our Alliance all of the world’s citizens could be blessed by similar means of protecting peace and fundamental human rights. The freedoms, progress, exchanges, openness and interconnectedness that we have benefited from as individuals and as free nations and which have brought us progress, are in fact global values. These values are amongst the fundamental principles that underpin effective multilateral cooperation.
However, we now see how the unprovoked Russian aggression directed at the Ukraine is affecting the global order and, even more importantly, the daily lives of the world’s citizens with regard to their food and energy supplies, their living costs and their safety.
The war in the Ukraine is not just an issue between Ukraine and Russia; it is not just a regional matter. It is a human catastrophe and a threatening challenge affecting all nations.
The same goes for the conflict and division that has, for so many decades, been affecting the Korean Peninsula. The Korean Peninsula should be reunited, the state of war that officially still exists between the two Koreas, finally ended and the unacceptable threat posed by nuclear arms put an end to. This is an endeavor that we, members of the international community, should more actively pursue, in solidarity with the citizens who suffer from the division caused by the war. Indeed, the reunification of the Korean Peninsula should be a more prominent item on the common agenda that we, as the international community, share.
Dear Dr. Moon, dear excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the Seoul Declaration adopted at the World Summit in February earlier this year, and underwritten and supported by so many world leaders, is a very important document. It is a comprehensive, concrete and clear roadmap to a sustainable and peaceful coexistence and ultimate reunification.
The strength of the Seoul Declaration lies in the fact that it goes far beyond traditional and narrow military and diplomatic approaches. The Declaration is based on UPF’s collaborative and multisectoral approach and indeed includes many concrete proposals for strengthening people-to-people relationships and deepening cooperation. The Declaration includes so many concrete proposals that would act as steppingstones on the path to improvements in the daily lives of the people concerned and to peaceful reunification.
Let us therefore actively promote the content of the Seoul Declaration and ask all incumbent international leaders to give it the attention it deserves.
The peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula is more than the legitimate dream of you, Mother Moon, and the entire Korean nation. It is also a crucial task for the entire global community to fulfil.
I wish all those physically present for the World Summit in Korea, very fruitful exchanges and hope to meet you in person soon.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.