2017 동북아평화협력포럼 개회사(11. 16.)
Distinguished Guests, friends and colleagues,
It is in great delight to welcome all of you to the 2017 Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Forum. I thank the Korea National Diplomatic Academy and the Sejong Institute, for bringing together leading officials and scholars from the countries of Northeast Asia and beyond for today’s gathering, which is the first in what we hope to nurture into an annual forum to build a multilateral platform for regional peace and prosperity.
You have all been invited to think and explore together, widely and deeply, to advance multilateral cooperation in facing the myriad challenges to peace and prosperity in this region and beyond. Taking place here in Seoul, just south of the most heavily armed region in the world, where tension runs high and things can easily get out of control, the unimaginative and timid may be too overwhelmed to think beyond the immediate surroundings. Indeed, the growing threat of the North Korean nuclear and missile program has become a global security issue that has preoccupied minds near and far. But this is all the more the reason to take a step back and seek a wider and longer-term vision of peace and prosperity in the broader region, and thus the timeliness of this gathering. And we know each and every one of you to be bold and imaginative so as to make the discussions today very enlightening and engaging.
There is no need to remind you that Northeast Asia lacks a well-established multilateral mechanism to resolve shared issues and promote cooperation. There have been various proposals and initiatives to promote intra-regional cooperation, but none has evolved to set up a durable multilateral entity that is even remotely comparable to the EU, ASEAN, and other well-established models of multilateralism in other regions. Indeed, multilateralism itself is getting mixed reviews these days, with some of its front-runners criticized for their inability to deliver on their mandates or to adapt to the changing times. But there are also cases of vibrant and enduring multilateralism, such as ASEAN which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with heightened relevance and confidence.
Against this backdrop, the theme for the forum today - new challenges and opportunities for multilateral cooperation in Northeast Asia and beyond – is truly apt. There are indeed many challenges that hinder multilateral cooperation among nations in Northeast Asia. The geopolitical history of the region is complex, and the neighbors can be too close for comfort at times. And yet, such challenges are precisely why we should explore ways to give new life to multilateralism in the region. Furthermore, the growing list of transnational issues that cannot be resolved unilaterally or bilaterally – the environment, energy security, and cyber space, to name a few – makes multilateral cooperation for peace and prosperity in our region all the more relevant and necessary.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Over the last six months, the new government of Korea has had a very busy agenda on the diplomatic front, and we have undertaken the work with vision, and with a view to generating fresh momentum for multilateral cooperation in this region and beyond.
We have striven to strengthen the bilateral ties with our neighboring countries, by quickly reviving presidential and high-level diplomatic efforts to solidify these ties and resolve some of the outstanding issues. We have also been endeavoring to diversify and deepen our relations and partnerships with other countries and regions. While we continue to strengthen our key bilateral ties, we want to work towards closer collaboration with partners beyond the immediate neighborhood. Thus, in a clear demonstration on this new balance, immediately after hosting a very successful visit to Korea by President Trump, President Moon flew to Indonesia for a state visit, followed by his first and very intense engagement at APEC in Da Nang and the ASEAN related summit meetings in Manila.
Ladies and Gentlemen, and colleagues,
My government’s approach to building a Northeast Asia Platform for Peace and Cooperation in this region and beyond is guided by some key tenets. First, we envision a comprehensive agenda and participation. We aim to deal with various issues spanning the economic and socio-cultural fields as well as security issues. Past endeavors to discuss regional security issues were usually limited in participation and agenda. And we are going for a different approach, with inclusive participation and a wider range of subject. Thus, we have invited colleagues from Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Singapore, who will help us to expand our horizon and deepen our understanding of the issues at hand.
Second, we want to link up track 1 government-to-government with track 1.5 government-to-non-government discussions. During the past years, we have made some progress through track 1.5 discussions in non-traditional security issues, but these have rarely connected with or transitioned towards track 1 cooperation. We will review the existing areas of cooperation and identity areas where meaningful linkages between the two tracks can be nurtured.
Third, we hope to foster and maintain connectivity among all the participants. We envision the Platform as being partly an on-line sustained forum where participants in the annual meetings will be able to link up to further the discussion and engagement.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the Jeju Forum in May, President Moon pledged: “The Korean government will bear its role and responsibility to foster common peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia.” He has expanded this commitment northward with his new northern policy, as spelled out during his visit to Vladivostok for the 3rd Far East Economic Forum in early September, and southward with his new southern policy that was elaborated during his recent visit to Southeast Asia. As we define the details of the implementation plans for these policies in a way that serves the larger interest for peace and prosperity in our region, we very much count the rich ideas and thoughts that will be generated through your discussions today.
Thank you very much and wish you a fruitful day.
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