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Paris, France—UPF’s Europe-Middle East branch completed an International Leadership Conference focusing on a peaceful future for the Korean Peninsula.
Each of the eight UPF associations organized a session of ILC2021, which was held online from April 26 to May 1, 2021.
A total of approximately 2,000 people attended ILC2021, whose theme was “Toward the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula: Creating the Foundation for a Unified World.”
The prominent speakers included former heads of government and first ladies, parliamentarians, religious leaders, scholars, media professionals, business leaders, and artists. The question of Korea’s peaceful reunification was addressed from various perspectives, and constructive recommendations were proposed.
The ILC2021 was held simultaneously in four other regions of the world: North and South America, Africa, the Asia Pacific Region, and Japan. From around the world, about 300 eminent speakers offered their perspective on the conference theme.
April 26, 2021 – 9:00 CET
Theme: “Toward an Undersea Tunnel Connecting Japan and Korea: Lessons from the Eurotunnel and the Marmaray Tunnel”
The IAED webinar of ILC2021 was held jointly by UPF of Europe and the Middle East and UPF Japan. The moderator, Mr. Robin Marsh, secretary general of UPF-United Kingdom, presented the theme and noted that a tunnel between Korea and Japan would have profound effects in East Asia for peace and prosperity.
In his introductory remarks, Mr. Masayoshi Kajikuri, the chair of the International Highway Construction Foundation and chair of UPF-Japan, explained the origin of the International Peace Highway Project, which Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, the co-founder of UPF, proposed in 1981 at the 10th International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS) in Seoul. In his vision, the Japan-Korea Undersea Tunnel would be the terminus of international highways. Following the tunnel project’s inclusion in the Japan-Korea Summit in 2010, the foundation seeks to encourage a bilateral agreement between Japan and South Korea on the project and garner widespread support.
Dr. Yoshimitsu Nishikawa, a research fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences of Toyo University in Japan, proposed an undersea tunnel, over 230 kilometers in length, connecting the Japanese island of Kyushu with the South Korean city of Busan. He argued that an undersea tunnel would have a great effect on the economic development of the two countries, facilitating the transportation of tourists and the mutual exchange of energy, and would contribute to peace and stability in Northeast Asia.
Ms. Gözde Dizdar, the vice president of Centrist Asia Pacific Democrats International, Turkey, explained about the Marmaray Tunnel: It is the deepest immersed tube tunnel in the world with a depth of 60 meters, connecting the European and Asian sides of Istanbul across the Bosporus Strait. The construction by a consortium of Japanese and Turkish contractors had to overcome many challenges, including the seismic design for an earthquake resistance of 7.5 Richter, the high ship traffic (50,000 ships a year), archeological findings and political pressures.
Professor Roger Vickerman, emeritus professor of European economics at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, spoke about the Channel Tunnel between England and France. Begun in 1987 and opened in 1994, the 50km tunnel system provides two types of services: shuttle trains for cars and trucks between terminals, and through rail services. For passengers, Eurostar high-speed trains link London with Paris and Brussels. As a piece of advice to Japanese participants, Professor Vickerman added that it was important to have clear support from a range of stakeholders, both nationally and locally, to build consensus – and to deal with environmental concerns.
Mr. Jacques Marion,regional co-chair of UPF Europe and the Middle East, ended the webinar by explaining the UPF founders’ vision underlying the Japan-Korea tunnel, which would be the first link of a Great International Highway that would run through China to the west and Russia to the north, helping to create a prosperous East Asian Economic Zone. It then would extend to Western Europe on the one hand, and to the United States and Canada on the other hand, by means of an undersea tunnel at the Bering Strait.
April 29, 2021 – 9:30 CET
The ILC2021 Opening Session was held on the morning of April 29, initiating a series of seven webinars in three days.
Reflecting the UPF approach that peace-making efforts must be rooted in godly values, the session began with invocations from Reverend Canon Ann Easter of the United Kingdom, former chaplain to HRH Queen Elizabeth II, and Sheikh Mohamad Ali Al-Haj Al-Amili of Lebanon, director of the Imam As-Sajjad Seminary.
Dr. Katsumi Otsuka, the regional co-chair of UPF Europe and the Middle East, emphasized that the webinars are commemorating the UPF founders’ visit to North Korea thirty years ago, as well as laying a foundation to launch Think Tank 2022, which will consist of multiple expert working groups exploring the issue of peace on the Korean Peninsula.
In his keynote speech, Italian Senator Pier Ferdinando Casini, the former president of the Italian National Assembly and the honorary chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, explained that the issue of Korean reunification is an example of the tension between political pragmatism and utopianism. “If reunification in a political sense appears today to be a dream, a convergence of interests that makes the policies of the two countries head in the same direction does not seem to be impossible,” he said.
Dr. Claude Béglé, an entrepreneur and former Swiss member of parliament who has visited North Korea, reminded us that the Korean Peninsula is a buffer between the two geopolitical camps led by China and the United States, which are striving for hegemony. He described his experience of the similarities between the people of North and South Korea, who are both hard working and strive for excellence. “People have to learn to forgive each other,” he said, “as Germany and France managed to do over time, allowing for European construction.”
The Opening Session included a compilation video of UPF’s five previous Rally of Hope initiatives. The video featured speakers such as H.E. Ban Ki-moon, former secretary-general of the United Nations; Nobel laureates such as former South African President F.W. de Klerk and World Food Programme CEO David Beasley; the co-inventor of Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine, Professor Sarah Gilbert; and former European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.
Mr. Jacques Marion, the regional co-chair of UPF for Europe and the Middle East, acting as the moderator, announced the Sixth Rally of Hope scheduled for May 9 and the launch of a global working group of experts called Think Tank 2022, focusing on the issue of peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.
Dr. Thomas Walsh, UPF International chairman, in a recorded message emphasized UPF’s strategic plan to focus on moving the Korean Peninsula toward peace. He mentioned that 120 UPF webinars on this theme had been held over the last three months around the world, and that the peace efforts of the international network of experts will be undertaken in a multi-sectoral manner, with high-level delegations visiting key stakeholder nations once the pandemic allows. He further outlined UPF plans to hold a World Summit in November 2021, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the UPF founders’ visit to North Korea in December 1991.
In her founder’s message, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, co-founder of UPF, spoke of the Korean War and the miracle that 16 UN member nations came forward at that time to support South Korea. Tearfully referring to those soldiers, many of whom were in their teens, as heroes of the providence, Dr. Moon said she was determined that they will not be forgotten. Many of those veterans, now in their 90s, expressed that they want to see a peacefully united Korea, she said. Dr. Moon expressed her desire to see that each of those contributing nations has a monument on which those fallen soldiers’ names are inscribed.
April 29, 2021 – 11:30 CET
Theme: “The Implications for Europe of the Process toward Peaceful Reunification on the Korean Peninsula - How Can Europe Assist in That Process?”
In his opening remarks, Mr. Mark Brann, vice chair of UPF for Europe and the Middle East and director of ISCP for Europe and the Middle East, mentioned UPF co-founder Mother Moon’s prediction that the process toward the reunification of the Korean Peninsula would start as early as 2022, and that she initiated in 2021 a global interdisciplinary working group of experts to explore and advise on how this could be achieved.
The moderator, Dr. Werner Fasslabend, the president of the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy and a former Austrian minister of defense, emphasized that the Korean Peninsula is situated at the epicenter of world politics and draws the interest of the three great world powers.
H.E. Yves Leterme, prime minister of Belgium (2008; 2009-2011), provided four incentives for the European Union and the global community to be more involved in the resolution of conflict on the Korean Peninsula: First, to prevent an outbreak of a second Korean War; second, to prevent North Korea from becoming a nuclear power; third, to help bring about a balance of power in this crucial region of the world; fourth, for the sake of the well-being of the Korean population, especially in the North. The EU should focus on three key elements, he said: denuclearization and non-proliferation; social and economic development; and human rights.
According to H.E. Kjell Magne Bondevik, prime minister of Norway (1997-2000; 2001-2005), experience shows that imposing one’s will on North Korea has not been successful. Instead, he suggested taking a more positive approach, such as the “sunshine policy” initiated by former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. He proposed that Europe take an approach based on the model of the Helsinki Accords, which led to dialogue and agreements on economic and security cooperation and human rights during the Cold War. Similarly, North Korea could arrive at some agreements fostering development of its economy and its integration into the international community.
Dr. Karin Kneissl, the foreign minister of Austria (2017-2019), spoke of the Iran Nuclear Deal signed in Vienna in 2015 between Iran and the five permanent UN Security Council members, plus Germany and the European Union. “Once the US withdrew from the deal in 2018, North Korea concluded that the US could not be trusted,” she said. Now, after a new start in Washington, the negotiations are focusing not only on nuclear restrictions but also on Iran’s regional role in the Middle East. Europe, with nations such as Switzerland, Norway, or Russia that have far-reaching diplomatic networks on the Korean Peninsula, could play a larger role in the peace process.
Dr. Alexander Zhebin, the director of the Center for Korean Studies at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, noted that the reunification of Korea will require a long period of peaceful coexistence, during which economic cooperation and security guarantees can build trust between the two countries. “It is easier for North Korea to deal with middle-level powers from Europe,” he said. The EU should share its vast experience in confidence-building measures, soften the sanctions imposed on North Korea, and provide humanitarian, financial, and technical assistance, he said.
During the question-and-answer session, Dr. Kneissl said that she was doubtful an Asian Helsinki Process could be the answer in the case of the Korean Peninsula. In Europe, Dr. Zhebin added, the Helsinki Process was possible because countries recognized each other, whereas in Northeast Asia there are still territorial disputes, no mutually recognized borders, and no mutually recognized governments.
In closing, Mr. Brann referred to all the changes and developments occurring in Northeast Asia, and said that it was crucial that Europe fully recognizes their implications and does everything in its power to help bring peace in the region.
April 29, 2021 – 14:30 CET
Theme: “The Forgotten Pain of a Divided People – New Prospects for Peace and Reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula”
The webinar was introduced by the moderator, Rabbi Kevin De-Carli from Switzerland, president of the GIIA (Geneva Interfaith Intercultural Alliance) Interfaith Youth Council, who called on the speakers to make their initial statements.
Rev. Dr. William McComish, dean emeritus of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Geneva, Switzerland, described how the Koreans, being from a family-oriented culture, suffered greatly after their families were divided by the Korean War in 1950. Yet, it is a crime that has been forgotten by the world. One reason for this is that Korea was much less known than Japan or China. Moreover, many inside and outside Korea want to preserve the status quo for their own interests. “Unification will bring challenges, which many people are reluctant to face,” he said.
Ms. Batool Subeiti, a peace activist and young Islamic faith leader from Birmingham, United Kingdom, emphasized that the problem should be tackled at the root. “Reunification should be undertaken by the same actors that caused the division, namely the great powers,” she said. “And for NGOs to contribute, more political freedom and an easier access to the North are needed, allowing twin villages to be created on both sides and marriages between them encouraged.”
Hon. Ján Figeľ from Slovakia, a former EU commissioner and special rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief outside the EU, stressed the role of Europe as an inspirational model for many countries in the world. European unity began as the dream of a few people, then became the desire of many, and today is a necessity. To promote Korean unification, leaders offering an inspirational example are needed—not necessarily political leaders. The three-step pattern of “dream, desire, necessity” also can be applied on the Korean Peninsula.
Ms. Emina Frljak, a peace activist and coordinator of Youth for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, gave the perspective of a young person from a nation that is still divided, with a frozen conflict still prevalent despite the declared peace. “The reconciliation in Korea should never be imposed, and the interests of the Korean people should always be considered a priority,” she insisted. “Faith and spirituality can be a healing point,” she added.
Finally, Professor Brian Myers, author and professor of international studies at Dongseo University in Busan, South Korea, gave a profound analysis of fundamental issues, such as the Juche ideology in North Korea, which is perceived as quasi-religious by the Western world. Professor Myers said there is no common ground with religion. That description of the Juche ideology as religious served the vision and strategy of regional political players and was used as a propaganda tool toward the outside world.
In the second part of the webinar the speakers were asked to consider the role of spirituality, faith and religion in fostering peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula. The issue was raised of the need for a type of Marshall Plan on the Korean Peninsula. Hon. Ján Figeľ reminded us that in the 1970s, long before the fall of the Iron Curtain, a series of dialogues between Eastern and Western Europe had begun known as the Helsinki Process. This led to real cooperation and later to the integration of Eastern Europe. He suggested that a similar process would be helpful on the Korean Peninsula.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Heiner Handschin, the coordinator of IAPD for Europe and the Middle East, reminded us of the UPF founders’ call for an interreligious council at the United Nations, which could be very effective in areas of conflict. He added that the UN needed to be more involved in East Asia, where it lacks representation, although 60 percent of the world’s population live in that region. He called for the establishment of a fifth UN office on the Korean Peninsula at the Demilitarized Zone, which would arouse a broad interest around the globe for sustainable peace in that region.
April 29, 2021 – 16:30 CET
Theme: “The Role of Parliamentarians in Contributing to Peace on the Korean Peninsula”
At the opening of the webinar, the moderator, Ms. Maria Nazarova, the president of UPF-Russia, raised three questions: Can Europe contribute to peace on the Korean Peninsula? What role can be played by Russia, which connects Europe and Northeast Asia? Can parliamentary diplomacy help to move forward the long-awaited peace process in this conflicted region?
Mr. Peter Haider, the president of UPF-Austria, explained in his welcoming remarks about the UPF founders’ vision and their efforts to reunite their homeland of Korea, as well as the need for the international community’s firm support.
Dr. Michael Balcomb, the regional chair for Europe and the Middle East of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), an organization that is affiliated with UPF, stressed that because the Korean conflict resulted from a clash of global forces, the reunification of the Korean Peninsula should be the world’s concern. “Although the Korean people may believe that the conflict is for them to resolve, many examples show how the sustained peace and security of peoples and nations depend on support from the world,” he said. “If we can work together,” he concluded, “major unresolved conflicts of the 20th century could be brought to an end.”
Hon. Gadzhimurad Omarov, a member of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, emphasized that we live in an age when nations need to put aside their own agendas and focus on peace, safety and security for all. He saw in a recent trip to Africa how the people are suffering from repercussions of civil war, and he could relate to the situation on the Korean Peninsula. “Commemorating 30 years of diplomatic relations with South Korea, Russia is making all efforts to assist peaceful reunification,” he said.
In his recorded presentation, Italian Sen. Roberto Rampi expressed his conviction that interdisciplinary work is essential to facilitate the process of dialogue and reunification on the Korean Peninsula. He suggested that cultural tools such as art and sports are peaceful means to break down barriers.
Hon. Keith Best, a former member of Parliament of the United Kingdom and UPF-UK chair of the Board of Trustees, spoke of the responsibility of the European Union in easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, confident that parliamentarians should play a significant role in the dialogue. “Not representing their governments,” he said, “they have more freedom to examine areas of interest, with fewer diplomatic consequences. Their capacity to ascertain real issues of contention allows them to provide more information than even sophisticated intelligence services.”
Baroness Sandip Verma, a member of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom, said that, in her experience, collaboration of thought, solutions, practices, beyond political differences, has brought the best success in all governments in the past. “The COVID-19 global crisis requires a global response, but miscommunication and lack of shared interest between countries have made apparent the rifts throughout the world today,” she said. “It is urgent to improve the management of relationships across all borders,” she concluded.
April 30, 2021 – 9:30 CET
Theme: “The Role of the Media in Contributing to Peace on the Korean Peninsula”
In her welcoming remarks as moderator, Ms. Rita Payne, former Asia editor at BBC World News (TV) and president emeritus of the Commonwealth Journalists Association, pointed out that, despite the declining trust in the media due to the “fake news” phenomenon, the media have been a crucial part of the network of democratic institutions that have helped maintain peace in Europe. The IMAP conference, she said, aims to create a coherent picture of the role of the media in possible reunification efforts on the Korean Peninsula.
Mr. Thomas McDevitt, chairman of The Washington Times newspaper in the United States, drew attention to the current disruptions in the world—e.g., the questioning of social norms, the shift in the Atlantic-centered civilization, or the global COVID-19 pandemic – and to how vital it is for the media to report the news “with accuracy, fairness and relevance” in this regard. He stressed the role of IMAP in this task, as the organization's main purpose is to encourage the development of a responsible global media industry.
Mr. Masahiro Kuroki, president and CEO of the Sekai Nippo newspaper in Japan, said that the historical experiences of reunification in Europe could serve as a model for Korea. The mission of the media is to clarify the political, economic and cultural nature of the conflict. Referring to the recent US presidential elections, he outlined how the appearance of new forms of media, such as YouTube or social networking services, can make media coverage strongly questionable and create confusion. “Both old and new media need to reflect upon themselves,” he concluded.
Professor Toshio Miyatsuka, founder and president of the Miyatsuka Korea Institute, explained how as a Japanese man he was exposed at a young age to the conflict between North and South Korea, and later joined the Japan-DPRK Society. He cited the propaganda war going on, with leaflets dropped off above one country by the other as the main weapon. “They are often referred to as ‘flying paper bombs,’” he said, “providing North Koreans with a different perspective and are therefore considered to have great potential in unification efforts.”
Mr. Lutfi Dervishi, a journalist and political analyst, born in Albania, a country previously known as the “North Korea of Europe,” said that he was familiar with the communist perspective on the media. Today, he said, Albania has evolved from a North Korean state model to one more resembling the South Korean model, with journalism shifting from propaganda to free media. Yet, a new form of media war is developing in the world, no longer fought based on facts, but on opinion. “A shift is needed from business journalism to truthful journalism,” he said.
Mr. Humphrey Hawksley, a commentator and broadcaster and longstanding BBC foreign correspondent, elaborated on the fact that the media thrive on conflict, and therefore examining their role in bringing about peace is not an easy task. It is further complicated by the ever-diversifying nature of the media, from blogs to social media and other outlets. “Regarding the geopolitical aspect of the Korean Peninsula,” he warned, “it is crucial that unification endeavors to gain a larger consensus among nations, since without such consensus it can become the scene of proxy wars between ideologies, that can hinder all efforts at peacemaking.”
April 30, 2021 – 11:30 CET
Theme: “Peaceful Reunification on the Korean Peninsula: Women in International Peace-Making and Reconciliation Processes”
Ms. Carolyn Handschin-Moser, IAFLP coordinator and vice president for Europe of the Women’s Federation for World Peace International, an organization that is affiliated with UPF, welcomed the panelists, saying that there are many women leaders in our region with a wealth of experience in dealing with conflicts and peace processes, thereby acquiring critical tools that are applicable everywhere.
In her opening remarks, Dr. Julia Moon, the president of Women’s Federation for World Peace International, praised UPF co-founder Mother Moon’s efforts to convene global leaders from all walks of life to address the root causes of world problems. Referring to the example of Eleanor Roosevelt, the first chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, who was instrumental in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, she said that IAFLP can become a platform to realize a world of lasting peace based on interdependence, mutual prosperity, and universal values.
H.E. Anneli Jäätteenmäki, Finland’s first female prime minister, offered her unique perspective on the theme, both as speaker and session moderator. She highlighted the importance of women in using their unique value to claim a place in peace negotiations. From experience, she offered three key elements generally applicable in peace negotiations. First: Study the nation’s history and specific traits that may justify certain decisions and help understanding. Second: Be aware of the cooperation between authorities and NGOs, and include all sides. Third: Use personal examples of democratic societies to help people connect to their stories, struggles and victories.
H.E. Nayla Moawad, former minister of social affairs and former first lady of Lebanon, who became active in politics following the assassination of her husband, President René Moawad in 1989, said, “If we want to improve the world situation, we need to encourage women to be active in politics.” She referred to the increasing number of women engaged in Lebanese politics over the last 40 years. “Good political leaders need to connect to the people with heart, understand their needs, and encourage them to achieve their goals,” she said. Mrs. Moawad highlighted the importance of cooperation between authorities and NGOs in fulfilling essential tasks to serve the people.
Dr. Elena Drapeko, a member of the Russian State Duma and first deputy chair of the Committee on Culture, elaborated on the causes of conflict and bloodshed. After observing that poor knowledge of the history of one’s nation and other nations can be the root of misunderstanding and mistrust, resulting in conflicts and violence, Dr. Drapeko initiated reconciliation projects through cultural exchange programs in villages, enabling people to become acquainted and to build trust. Further examples include the successful involvement of mothers in areas of conflict (the border with Ukraine) to achieve a ceasefire, and repatriation of orphaned children from Syria.
Ms. Boram Kim, who works for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Germany, offered both Korean and UN perspectives. Ms. Kim highlighted the role of women in UN peacekeeping missions in the last two decades. She offered data from global UN peacekeeping missions indicating an increase in women’s participation from 1 percent to 11 percent in police units since 1993. Ms. Kim highlighted the impact on global affairs of the UN declarations on the role of women. She concluded by asking, “How can we position women to be considered sustainable change-makers in peace-making and reconciliation processes?”
April 30, 2021 – 16:00 CET
Theme: “The Role of Culture in the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula”
As moderator, Mr. Armando Lozano, president of the Espacio Ronda Cultural Centre in Madrid, spoke about approaching the division on the Korean Peninsula through the medium of art. “People remember accomplishments made in art, architecture, or music, with gratitude for their diversity, without any sense of competition,” he noted. Culture is a universal language that goes beyond the tensions and problems created by history and by politics, he said.
Before each panelist’s presentation, a short video of the panelist’s background and artistic work was shown.
Dr. Antonio Domenech, an associate professor in East Asian studies and Korean studies at the University of Malaga, Spain, lived for 10 years in South Korea, where he married a Korean artist. Most important, he said, is to understand han, the feeling of suffering and pain experienced by older Korean people who suffered the most from the separation of their families between North and South. Han has united many in an attempt to overcome the division of a nation with one culture, history, and language. In 2000, he witnessed the reunion meetings of Korean families, giving them hope for reunification of North and South Korea. Moreover, the common cultural heritage of both countries is an important tool on the way to unification.
Ms. Isabella Krapf, a musician and vice president of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Association in Austria, worked as a teacher of music in a Pyongyang theater from 2011 to 2013 and testified that North Koreans are proud of their culture, art and music. Traditional dance has a prominent place in North Korean culture, and indeed in the lives of people all over the country. Painting, calligraphy, embroidery, and singing all help to keep the old culture alive. On the other hand, interest in contemporary styles and influences from abroad, such as jazz, is also strong.
Dr. Oleksiy Rohotchenko, an art critic and member of the National Academy of Arts of Ukraine, described the rich arts culture of Korea, including its ancient art of pottery. He gave examples of the unifying role that subcultures play among people. The annual Festival of Blacksmiths in Ukraine gathers blacksmiths from around the world who share their skills in re-created real-life conditions. The former East and West Germanys, the divided Koreas, Ukraine, all share folk art of their own. Ethnoculture can be a country’s guide to a worldwide cultural sphere.
Ms. Ji Suk (Jessy) Baek, a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Seoul who resides in Croatia, expressed that since Korea was divided despite the will of Koreans, reunification cannot depend only on the two Koreas. Since the 1980s, the Korean Wave, i.e., the popularity of South Korean K-pop and other cultural products, has spread around the world, even into North Korea. She likes to believe that a united Korean culture can contribute to the development of a world culture that can nurture and elevate the spirit.
In their concluding remarks, the speakers emphasized the importance of bringing together young people from the South, who have little interest in reunification, and youngsters from the North, through cultural, educational programs or sports, and school-to-school exchange programs. Women are particularly well placed to bring people closer together, and folk art, which does not require much theoretical explanation, unlike contemporary art, can be a good tool for cultural dialogue.
May 1, 2021 – 9:30 CET
Theme: “Toward a Northeast Asian Economic Community? What Can Be Learned from the History of the European Union”
The moderator, Dr. Niklas Swanström, the executive director of the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Sweden, brought his expertise to the conference and gave initial remarks: “I do think there are some important lessons that can be learned from the European experience, but Northeast Asia is a unique region. Nothing happens in a regional bubble; international factors always play a major role, so cooperation is necessary.”
The first speaker, Hon. Erna Hennicot-Schoepges, former president of the Chamber of Deputies of Luxembourg, reviewed the step-by-step process of European unification, from the European Coal and Steel Community after World War II to the European Economic Community, and finally today’s European Union.
The founding principle of the EU is democracy, and that is the priority to work on. “The world is changing after this pandemic. It has become more global. We need to understand that it’s all about compromise and links between people, and about political will,” she concluded.
Mr. Jun Isomura, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute of Washington DC, based in Japan, noted that under the 1953 Armistice Agreement, the Korean Peninsula is still at war. “An end-of-war agreement between the DPRK and the US, including the UN Command, would not mean an end-of-war between the DPRK and the ROK, theoretically. So, before talking about unification, South Korea should solve this problem. Just as West Germany had undertaken a wide variety of preparations toward East Germany and Eastern Europe, the unification of the DPRK and ROK needs a similar process of preparation,” he explained.
Dr. Vladimir Petrovsky, chief researcher at the Russia-China Center of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that to create an economic community in Northeast Asia, we should look to the experience of integrated formations in East Asia and Eurasia. European integration came on the foundation of reconciliation after World War II, he said. However, in Northeast Asia there are still territorial disputes on many borders and a lack of mutual trust between nations. This is what prevents building a community. He concluded by saying that it is not advisable to build connections against China, or to exclude it.
In their final remarks, speakers said: The first step toward unification would be to let citizens meet and families reunite. in Germany, the people were the ones who opened the borders, not the politicians. North Korea has no intention of starting a war with the United States. Missiles are a tool for negotiating. They want to be recognized as a nation.
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Yoshihiro Yamazaki, liaison director for Europe and the Middle East of the Institute for Peace Policies from Japan, said that if the Korea question finds a solution, it surely will help many nations and peoples in distress around the world to untangle their own situation. Accordingly, UPF has been elaborating three guiding principles toward peaceful and prosperous communities of nations: interdependence, mutual prosperity, and universally shared values, which the UPF founders have been explicitly advocating since the 1960s.
May 1, 2021 – 11:00 CET
The International Leadership Conference ILC2021 closed with reflections from Dr. Katsumi Otsuka, the regional co-chair of UPF for Europe and the Middle East, and Dr. Michael Balcomb, the regional chair of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) in Europe and the Middle East. Each thanked the speakers and participants for their involvement in this intense program, and for the great diversity of viewpoints and proposals that were offered in support of peace and reunification on the Korean Peninsula.
Mr. Jacques Marion, regional co-chair of UPF for Europe and the Middle East, gave a brief overview of each webinar discussion, followed by Ms. Carolyn Handschin-Moser, the coordinator of the International Association of First Ladies for Peace, who reported about the speakers and discussions in the IAFLP webinar.
Seventy years ago, the world fought in Korea but left the country divided. Today it is UPF’s conviction that the world needs to come together again and take responsibility to resolve the division of the Korean Peninsula, which is a key focus of the power struggle between major nations of the world.