- Speeches & Published Materials
[Incumbent] Remarks at Luncheon with African Ambassadors
Your Excellency Carlos Victor Boungou,
Good afternoon and welcome to the first get-together with Ambassadors this year. It’s my first meeting with the African countries, so it is a truly meaningful event for me.
I feel this heaven is blessing us with this beautiful day, because it’s International Women’s Day, or you brought African sunshine. That is the best case if I would be hosting this event every day. I have a personal dimension to this event that I, as you know, worked in the United Nations for over ten years, and over those years, I made so many friends from so many countries around the world.
In Africa-particular, my closest assistant advisor was Lila Bruhl from Morocco. And I have colleagues Gafe India from Senegal, Frezi from Tunisia and Mazurka Dumi from Sudan. I am just giving you the names of those friends whom I still keep in touch with.
And Yasin Samatar from Somalia, Navi Pillay, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from South Africa, Amina Hohammed from Nigeria who is now the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. My dearest friend and my hero, Dr. Denis Mukwege from Congo who received the Nobel Peace Prize last year for his tiring efforts on behalf of victims of sexual violence and conflicts. These are just names whom I keep in touch with, there is many more. And of course, these are friends that I have made during my visits to the continent.
I have seen the challenges, the resilience of the people in the midst of the these challenges whether it’s natural disasters or conflicts, and the diversity but most importantly the humanity that resides in everyone that I have met during my many trips. Part of me is always wanting to and always ready to go back to Africa, so I asked my DG to find the appropriate opportunity for me to do so in the very near future. I hope to be making my commitment that I made myself come true in the very near future.
Let me congratulate, taking this opportunity, on the progress made in achieving the African Union's Agenda 2063 for "Integrated, Prosperous, and Peaceful Africa." Thanks to the hard work of your people and governments, many African countries last year achieved economic growth twice as high as the world average of 3%. I am confident that, with the African Continental Free Trade Area taking effect this year, internal trade and investment will certainly expand and flourish even further.
Africa is also breaking away from prolonged conflicts and political instability. The recent democratic and peaceful elections as well as peace agreements in different parts of the continent are testaments to this progress. Ethiopia and Eritrea stand as shining examples. The presidential elections in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Madagascar and DR Congo also resulted in peaceful transitions of power. These outcomes are indeed a response to the call of the African people for rule of law and democracy. I would like to take this opportunity to express my and my government’s wholehearted support for these efforts for peace.
In return, I ask for your continued support for my government’s efforts for peace. Despite the results of the Hanoi Summit between the US and DPRK last week, we will continue to muster the very best of our efforts to achieve permanent peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. And as Martin Luther King once said ‘Injustice everywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, insecurity everywhere is a threat to security everywhere’, we can turn them around and say ‘Peace everywhere is an inspiration for peace everywhere’. So we certainly hope the peace process on the Korean Peninsula will continue to inspire and muster the support of the global community.
This year we also mark the 100th anniversary of the March First Independence Movement and the establishment of the Korean Provisional Government. And we share the painful experience of colonization and conflict with many of the countries you represent. Korea has learned a great deal over the past century, not only from our successes but also from our mistakes and failures. And we certainly have enormous amount of empathy for other countries which are walking a similar path. And we are turning that empathy and experience into partnerships for development assistance.
In less than two years since taking office, this administration, we are expanding the political and economic cooperation between Korea and our African partners through a series of high-level exchanges, including the visits to many African countries by Prime Minister last year. Indeed last year also saw a number of meaningful events such as the Korea-Africa Youth Forum and the Seoul Dialogue on Africa. And of course we also saw the Korea-Africa Foundation established, which has quickly become an instrumental channel for public and private exchanges. And we will certainly build upon these milestones and take further steps together toward a future of shared prosperity and peace.
In conclusion, I remember Mr. Nelson Mandela always emphasized and actively promoted the spirit of "Ubuntu", which I understand means, "I am because you are. I am because we are." I believe this is a very good description of the spirit in which my government wishes to further develop and promote the friendship and partnerships between Korea and Africa.
With that, may I propose a toast?
Thank you. /End/