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EUME ILC2022: Session I

20220726 - ILC July-August 2022 - Berlin ILC Session 1 from UPF Europe and Middle East on Vimeo.

Berlin, Germany—The Europe-Middle East International Leadership Conference ILC2022 opened in the city that symbolizes the hope of reunification.

“From Swords to Ploughshares—Prospects for Peace on the Korean Peninsula and in Europe” was one of two sessions of ILC2022 that were held in Berlin on July 26, 2022, in the ballroom of the Berlin City Mission.

Three more sessions were held in London on August 4, and the final two were held in Larnaca, Cyprus, and Tirana, Albania, both on August 5.

The Europe-Middle East (EUME) ILC was one of many, with an International Leadership Conference being held in every region of the world in the summer of 2022, with the overall theme “Towards Peace and Security on the Korean Peninsula: Building a Global Culture of Peace.”

Jacques Marion, the co-chair of UPF for Europe and the Middle East, said in his welcoming speech that Berlin was chosen for the conference as it once was a symbol of division and then became a symbol of peaceful reunification when the Berlin Wall came down.

Due to the war in Ukraine, there is a threat that new walls may be erected in Europe again, Mr. Marion said. Berlin therefore was chosen as the site of a giant Peace Road event that was held on the following day, July 27, with the motto “No new walls in Europe.”

Dr. Dieter Schmidt, the president of UPF for Central Europe, said that, as a student at the Berlin Free University, he participated in campaigns against communism. In 1987, World CARP (College Association for the Research of the Principle), an organization affiliated with UPF, held its convention in Berlin, calling for the Berlin Wall to be brought down.

Even though nobody at that time believed that the reunification of East and West Germany was possible, UPF co-founder Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon was the driving force behind the World CARP convention. Two years later the wall did come down. Dr. Schmidt reminded the audience of the ILC2022 goal of finding prospects for peace on the Korean Peninsula, which, despite an armistice signed in 1953, is still divided today.

A video about the World Summit for Peace on the Korean Peninsula, which UPF held in Seoul, South Korea, in February 2022, then was shown.

Dr. Michael and Fumiko Balcomb, the EUME presidents of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), another organization affiliated with UPF, spoke about their participation in the summer of 2021 in a Peace Road walk across England, from the west coast to the east coast, following the ancient Hadrian’s Wall. Little did they realize at that time that one year later there would be a hot war in Europe.

Mrs. Balcomb, who is Japanese, spoke about former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the shock wave that his assassination on July 8 has sent throughout Japan. Mr. Abe was very sympathetic to the suffering of people and always ready to provide help, she said. He encouraged people of all walks of life to support efforts for peace.

One minute of silence was observed to honor all those who have sacrificed their lives for the sake of peace.  

As the moderator, Karl-Christian Hausmann, the president of UPF-Germany, explained why the title of Session I contains the words of the prophet Isaiah—“from swords to ploughshares.” History is not an endless sequence of tragedies, he said, but has a clear and unchanging goal: a peaceful world predestined by God. For this to come to fruition, human beings have to take the portion of responsibility that God has given us. God creates opportunities, and we have to act accordingly. We need to strengthen ourselves to cope with the obstacles encountered on the way, he said.

Dr. Gwang-seuk Song, the president of Peace Road Korea, recalled that 35 years ago he also came to Berlin to attend the World CARP Convention and its rally at the Berlin Wall—the largest ever held in West Germany for the unification of Germany, with over 3,000 participants from 70 countries. The rally was led by Rev. Moon’s son Hyo Jin Moon, who urged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to bring down the Berlin Wall immediately. The fall of the Wall in 1989, Dr. Song said, was largely due to  Secretary Gorbachev’s reform policy and the strong desire of the East Germans for reunification.

Dr. Song reminded the audience that in 1992, the 10th anniversary of The Washington Times, the daily newspaper founded by Reverend and Mrs. Moon, former U.S. President Ronald Reagan said: “At the most important time of the century we fought together and won the Cold War. It was The Washington Times that told the truth to American citizens. The founders of The Washington Times, which contributed to the end of the Cold War, were Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon.”

Dr. Song also said that on July 27, 2013, to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice signed on the Korean Peninsula, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon started the Peace Road Project in 190 countries in support of her husband’s earnest desire that humankind should become one family under God.

Dr. Claude Béglé from Switzerland, the chairman and CEO of the company SymbioSwiss and a former member of Parliament, said that history tends to repeat itself. Good news often turns into bad news. For instance, the Treaty of Versailles that was signed at the end of World War I led to Hitler’s rise and World War II. Likewise, the Allies won World War II, but Stalinism arose, Berlin was split and the Cold War started.  More recently, the crisis in Ukraine has emerged in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

To prevent victories from turning into new problems, he said, the victors should not humiliate the defeated. Neither side in a conflict should lose face. Moreover, he said, no power vacuum should be left, as happened after the collapse of Japan at the end of World War II, which led to its former colony Korea being divided.

Warring parties need to realize there is an interest for each in having peace, Dr. Béglé said. Economic bridges should be built, as common interests and shared wealth lead to cooperation. Neutral mediators should be allowed to facilitate dialogue. Forgiveness and reconciliation are essential, he said, as we all belong to the same human family.

Many of today’s tensions and conflicts illustrate a growing divide between liberal democracies and autocrats, as well as the irreversible rise of the Asian economic powerhouse and the decline of Western nations.

Klaus Kelle, a journalist and the editor in chief of the online daily TheGermanZ, spoke about witnessing the fall of the Berlin Wall. He realized then that, after 28 years of enforced separation, people still strongly wanted to live together in freedom. Proponents of a reunited Korea should know that unifying Germany and building the future together were not easy for the Germans, he said.

Because of the war in Ukraine, Europe and NATO have awakened to the realization that  they have mishandled relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Mr. Kelle said. The West must take the Ukrainian crisis as an opportunity to build on its newfound strength in alliance with the United States and Canada, and its friends and partners in Southeast Asia, he said.

While Russia is now perceived as a major threat, we are all ignoring China, the big dragon in the room, Mr. Kelle said.  Determined to overtake the US as the world’s biggest superpower and to expand its power and strength, China constitutes the biggest challenge for the future. All states that advocate freedom must defend freedom anew every day, he said.

Dr. Angela Mickley, a professor of peace education, conflict resolution and ecology at Potsdam University of Applied Sciences in Germany, described her experience with peace-making over several decades.

As a small child, she lost contact with all her relatives, except her parents, when the Berlin Wall was built. When they managed to meet again after the Wall came down,  they noticed how much they had grown apart by living in two entirely different systems.

When Dr. Mickley was invited to South Korea in 2000 as a mediation trainer, she was not asked which conflicts they had in Germany, but how they had dealt with them, as the Koreans wanted to learn from Germany and prepare well for the unification of the peninsula.

Dr. Mickley said that the past should not be forgotten or covered up. One cannot merely look into the future. A good example is South Africa, she said, where a Truth and Reconciliation Committee was established to allow South Africans of all races to come to terms with the past. A similar committee did not exist in Namibia, where she was working for several years after its independence from Germany. There were difficulties with the returning exiles who had studied abroad and whose differing concepts needed to be discussed and clarified. Dr. Mickley was training people, black and white, of all strata of society, how to manage conflicts.

From experience, she advised that it is better not to wait for the politicians to make their move. It is important to define and celebrate differences, she said.  When the majority prevails over the minority in making decisions, at least some of the interests of the minority group should be included.

Youth and children tend to be more flexible and receptive to new ideas. Therefore, they should be trained in peaceful conduct as an investment in the future, she said.

The question-and-answer session produced the following observations:

At times of conflict, there are stages in which dialogue is not possible.

Peace or negotiations are not possible if one side is forced to lose face.

According to basic Christian teachings, the dignity of a person should always be respected, regardless of what they do, while legal regulations will limit what someone does or intends to do.

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