1. Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang, Kyung-wha attended the Annual Meeting of the Romanian Diplomacy held on the evening of September 8, Korea Standard Time, in a virtual format at the invitation of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania Bogdan Lucian Aurescu. In the Meeting, Minister Kang, at the request of the Romanian side, shared the experiences of the Republic of Korea in responding to COVID-19 and gave a speech on the changing diplomatic environment since the outbreak of COVID-19 as well as ways for diplomatic responses.
° Minister Aurescu explained that Minister Kang had been invited to the Meeting because he had been deeply inspired by the ROK’s policy and method in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. He added that it was the first time in about 10 years for the foreign minister of an Asian country to attend an Annual Meeting of the Romanian Diplomacy.
2. With regard to the ROK’s response to COVID-19, Minister Kang explained that, despite the recent second wave that started in the metropolitan Seoul area, the ROK is well on its way to flattening this curve by ramping up its 3T (Test, Trace and Treatment) capacity.
° The Minister stressed that trust is the key ingredient in this crisis response and that the 3T strategy is the material manifestation of the principles that have guided the work -- openness, transparency, civic participation and innovativeness.
3. Minister Kang diagnosed that the crisis of multilateralism, which has served as a foundation of international peace and prosperity over the past decades, has been further exposed in the current COVID-19 situation, adding that the crisis should be overcome through cooperation.
° In particular, the Minister explained that, in the current global environment, the ROK has been responding to the situation in accordance with the following principles: faith in the fundamental values and principles that define us as a vibrant democracy and market economy, such as openness and transparency; an expanded scope of cooperation all around based on such values; a pursuit of peace and co-prosperity; and a commitment to shoring up multilateralism.
° The Minister mentioned that it is necessary to be realistic and clear-eyed in thinking of the future of multilateralism, that efforts are needed to reform the United Nations, a major international organization, and to enhance the role of the World Health Organization, and that, under the current circumstances of the waning global leadership, both the ROK and Romania need to play more active roles as middle power countries.
° In the question-and-answer session that followed the Minister’s speech, the Romanian side asked about perspectives for non-face-to-face diplomacy after the COVID-19 pandemic, among others. Minister Kang responded that, for the time being, diplomacy will continue to be carried out in a way that takes the advantages of both non-face-to-face and traditional in-person diplomacy. She added that, however, non-face-to-face diplomacy cannot completely replace in-person diplomacy, and that, for that reason, essential people-to-people exchanges should continue between countries at least at a minimal level.
4. Immediately ahead of the Annual Meeting, the Ministers of the two countries had a telephone conversation and discussed ways to deepen strategic partnership on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries as well as ways for cooperation on COVID-19 response, substantive cooperation, and cooperation on the international stage.
° The two Ministers noted with appreciation that the two countries have worked together in various areas over the 30 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations and that the bilateral relations have tightened in the face of the current COVID-19 crisis through bilateral cooperation regarding medical supplies, including test kits.
° Minister Aurescu stressed that the ROK is the only country in Asia that has established strategic partnership with Romania, mentioned that Romania considers the ROK an important cooperation partner, and voiced hope for further expansion of investment by Korean companies in Romania, including through participation in projects involving transportation infrastructure facilities and nuclear power plants.
° Minister Kang mentioned that, under the COVID-19 crisis, close economic cooperation between countries has become more important. The Minister added that Minister for Trade Yoo Myung-hee, who is running in the election of the next Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), has expertise necessary for strengthening the WTO and can play a bridging role between developing and developed countries. She went on to ask for the Romanian government’s special attention to and support for the Korean candidate.
5. It is an unusual case that an ROK Minister of Foreign Affairs has been invited to address the heads of overseas missions of a foreign country. The speech to high-level diplomats of Romania, one of the member states of the European Union in Central Europe, is expected to serve as a good opportunity to step up cooperation with Romania in the changing diplomatic environment since the outbreak of COVID-19 and to seek ways for future-oriented diplomacy between the ROK and the EU.
° In addition, in the telephone conversation held before the Annual Meeting of the Romanian Diplomacy, the two Ministers discussed ways to develop the bilateral strategic partnership by reviewing the progress in substantive cooperation, and reaffirmed their special friendship by agreeing to continue cooperation on COVID-19 response.