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EUME ILC 2021, June 30: Closing Session - ILC Looks to Future of Peninsula Peace Process

EUME-2021-06-30-ILC Looks to Future of Peninsula Peace Process

Europe and the Middle East—The June 2021 International Leadership Conference closed with recommendations for Think Tank 2022 and its goal of working for Korean reunification. Link to video

The closing session directly followed the sixth webinar, one of six that were held from June 24 to 30, 2021, under the theme of “Toward Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula.”

Speakers

Dr. Katsumi Otsuka, co-chair of UPF for Europe and the Middle East

Dr. Afsar Rathor, president of Lios Soil, an environmental NGO based in Vienna, Austria

Dr. Michael Balcomb, regional president for Europe and the Middle East of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), an organization that is affiliated with UPF

The moderator was Jacques Marion, co-chair of UPF for Europe and the Middle East.

Dr. Katsumi Otsuka said he was pleasantly surprised by the large number of participants from Europe, the Middle East and other parts of the world in this ILC webinar series on the theme of the peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula. After all, the division of the Korean Peninsula is not just a matter of one faraway nation but the result of an ideological conflict on a larger scale. The process of reunification is not simple, he said, but by resolving the conflict on the Korean Peninsula, world peace will surely come closer. Europe’s role in this context is growing, he said.

Dr. Otsuka referred to Think Tank 2022, which UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon established in May 2021 to work for the reunification of the Korean Peninsula. As its chairman, Dr. Moon appointed former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Dr. Otsuka ended with a quote from a movie: “We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery.”

Dr. Afsar Rathor summarized the recommendations for Korean reunification given by the speakers of the six ILC webinars held since June 24.

  • Confidence-building measures: removal of mines in the Demilitarized Zone, joint recovery operations and increased joint exercises by North and South Koreans
  • More people-to-people contact, comprehensive plan for family reunions, as happened before
  • Organization of joint cultural events and student-exchange programs
  • Enhanced communication and engagement of the Korean leadership
  • Address the DPRK’s security concerns and remedy the lack of trust
  • Revival of the six-party talks without the pre-condition of denuclearization
  • Support COVID-19 vaccination of North Koreans by providing free vaccines
  • A more active role for Europeans, as most European countries can communicate with both North and South Korea
  • Graduated sanction relief, particularly humanitarian
  • Role of NGOs and civil societies in North Korea to help in the aftermath of the pandemic
  • No compromise on human rights issues, not as a pre-condition but as part of the process
  • Turning the Demilitarized Zone into a peace zone by establishing a peace park
  • Foreign direct investment in North Korea to create jobs, prosperity, also as part of the process
  • Vigorous UN participation, stationing UN peacekeepers in the DMZ and building a fifth UN Office
  • South Korea and North Korea recognizing each other
  • Nuclear-weapons-free Northeast Asia

These recommendations will be compiled and offered as part of Think Tank 2022 to stimulate a constructive dialogue about the Korean Peninsula.

Before offering his own recommendations, Dr. Rathor listed the benefits to North Korea of unification:

  • Move from isolation and confrontation to reconciliation, peace and prosperity
  • Reduction of military expenditures
  • Investment in infrastructure, industry, the environment, energy, and health sector, which will create job opportunities and bring prosperity
  • Improvement of trade, commerce, business, financial standing and exports
  • Technology transfer
  • Labor exchange and manpower with Japan and South Korea, which have aging populations
  • Access to natural resources
  • Tenfold growth of the economy
  • Transportation and traveling convenience

Next, Dr. Rathor offered his own recommendations for Korean reunification:

  • Soft diplomacy, a new approach based on interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values
  • Russia, China and the United States sign a common vision and purpose statement
  • Regional partnership plan
  • Opportunities: Joint Summer Olympic Games 2032
  • South Korean economic responsibility to build railways, energy infrastructure, etc.
  • China and Russia engagement is indispensable
  • Investment in North Korean border areas
  • Construction of peace zones and a united Korean peace city/county in the DMZ
  • Loose confederation between both Koreas, established step by step during a transitional period. Switzerland could be a model.
  • United Korea as a neutral country in the Austrian mode.

Dr. Michael Balcomb, reflecting on this series of webinars, said he felt challenged, because quite a few speakers emphasized the shortcomings of the Korean peace process. North Korea is still following the same path and there is little people-to-people engagement, while normal diplomacy is challenging.

Still, Dr. Balcomb said, he has not given up hope. Thinking of the thousands of soldiers who shed their blood in the Korean War, he said he believes their blood is crying out from the ground for the peace that everyone wants to see—the more so as the countries that fought in the war are no longer enemies but play football with each other.

Dr. Balcomb mentioned that at an ILC webinar a few days earlier, former US Congressman Matt Salmon said, “There has to be the intervention of God.” Although UPF is a secular organization, its founders, Father and Mother Moon, often said that the problems of this world are not simply human problems; they need a spiritual solution, even a divine solution. Dr. Balcomb said he believes that, despite the difficulties, we could be at a turning point.

In his closing remarks, Jacques Marion thanked all the speakers of the six ILC sessions and also announced the next two ILCs:

July 27 to 29, under the theme “Best Practices in Track Two Diplomacy toward Peaceful Reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula: The Private Sector, Civil Society, NGOs, Faith-Based Organizations and Humanitarian Relief”

August 20 to 21, under two themes: “Prospects for Economic Development and Peace” and “Ideologies, Worldviews and International Relations: How Do Ideological and Worldview Factors Impact the Various Understandings of Conflict?”

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