‘한-아세안 싱크탱크 전략대화’ 개회사(2019. 10. 25.)
Opening Remarks on 2019 ASEAN-ROK Think Tank Dialogue
Chairman of Korea-ASEAN Parliamentary Diplomatic Forum, Representative LEE Suk-hyun,
Please allow me to extend my warmest welcome and sincere gratitude to all the distinguished guests for taking their valuable time to join us for the 2019 ASEAN-ROK Think Tank Strategic Dialogue.
From November 25 to 26, the heads of state from the 10 ASEAN member countries as well as ASEAN Secretary General Dato LIM Joch Hoi will be attending the 2019 ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit in Busan. ASEAN-Korea relations have made a steady progress over the past three decades since diplomatic relations were established in 1989. As you are probably aware, this year’s ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit is the third one to be held following the summits in 2009 and 2014. I am convinced that this much-anticipated summit will mark a significant milestone in ASEAN-ROK relations, as it comes at a time when the Moon Jae-in government is aspiring to broaden South Korea’s diplomatic and economic horizons and reaches through its signature foreign policy initiative - “New Southern Policy.” Immediately after President Moon took office in May 2017, he sent a special envoy to ASEAN for the first time in Korean history, and fulfilled his pledge to visit all 10 ASEAN countries this September and lifted Korea-ASEAN ties a notch higher.
Under the New Southern Policy, the ASEAN-South Korea relationship has been elevated to a new height in the areas of people-to-people exchanges, trade and investment and tourism. At the same time, ASEAN and South Korea have been also cooperating on regional security and peace, and in particular, North Korea and Korean Peninsula issues. All 10 ASEAN nations have diplomatic ties with North Korea and also ASEAN has been active in engaging North Korea in dialogue through the ASEAN Regional Forum since the 1990s. Recently, ASEAN has been playing constructive roles in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue and establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula by arranging the venues for two North Korea-US summits in Singapore and Hanoi.
Distinguished Guests, ladies and gentlemen,
In the midst of ever-growing US-China trade conflict, weakening US regional leadership, recent disagreements between Korea and Japan, and countries paving the way for their own survival, a close cooperation between Korea and ASEAN member states will help both sides broaden diplomatic horizons and effectively navigate this great flux.
Today, with 10 leading ASEAN think tanks, the Korea National Diplomatic Academy seeks to offer a new wave of strategic ideas to navigate the turbulent vortex in global politics and find ways to forge closer Korea-ASEAN ties. The three parts to this objective are as follows.
First, discussions will be held to institutionalize a channel for Korea and ASEAN to communicate policies effectively through a policy dialogue mechanism at the track II level. Many have been concerned about the inconsistency of South Korea’s policies toward ASEAN that used to change every time a new government is elected. I believe that creating a policy dialogue mechanism at the track II level could address such concerns.
Second, Korea and ASEAN, I believe, have a shared vision of exercising a “casting vote” in this great power rivalry, rather than just struggling to survive it. So, today’s dialogue is expected to provide an opportunity for eminent scholars and experts from 10 ASEAN member countries and Korea to carve out ways to cooperate and preemptively respond to the diplomatic and security challenges stemming from the US-China strategic competition.
Lastly, ASEAN usually holds a special summit every ten years with the other dialogue partners, but Korea was made an exception. The Korea-ASEAN Commemorative Summit is held every five years. This, I believe, is emblematic of ASEAN’s keen interest in Korea and its strong will to deepen bilateral cooperation. Today’s dialogue is expected to discuss ways to make the upcoming Korea-ASEAN Summit successful and further develop ASEAN-Korea relations.
I have no doubt that in this 2019 ASEAN-ROK Think Tank Strategic Dialogue, distinguished scholars from all of 10 ASEAN member countries and Korea will gather intellectual insights to discuss the significance and deliverables of the Commemorative Summit as well as the future directions for Korea-ASEAN relations.
I would also like to thank my hard-working colleagues here at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS) of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy (KNDA) for arranging today’s event. Thank you.
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