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Speeches

C. Béglé: Address to World Summit 2022, Plenary Session V

Address to World Summit
February 11-13, 2022

 

The Korean conflict is one of the last dinosaurs of the Cold War: Stalinism vs. McCarthyism. But the situation has evolved. For the North Korean regime, like for the Chinese, what is important is the pre-eminence of the Party, not necessarily sticking to the initial communist ideology. South Korea, having embraced a democratic system as well as a Western economic model, did remarkably well in terms of economic development, although with a worrying external debt.

There are two conflicts in one: a local one: South vs. North Korea, and a more global and actually the main one: USA vs. China.

Koreans constitute a well-defined nation, unlike many others, with a strong culture and traditions. They have a legitimate right to reunite and to build a joint future. There is, unfortunately, a propaganda war, on both sides. It is time to play it down and to plant the seeds of a better mutual respect, a so-crucial value in this part of the world. Koreans are Koreans. They are smart and hard workers. It is not true that they work so hard in South because they are motivated and in the North because they are forced. It is in their Korean DNA to be perfectionists. There is a belief that the situation in North Korea is like that in Russia before the collapse of the Soviet Union. This is not what I have seen. Yes, they suffer from the sanctions. But they work hard to produce most of what they need. I did not observe in DPRK the lethargy which prevailed at the collapse of the Soviet Empire.

Both South and North Korea invest into knowledge economy, very much so in the South, but I was surprised by the effort of continuous training in the North. They both want to be part of the future. I do believe that North Korean leaders are considering as a serious option to open up. But it depends upon the conditions, for themselves and for the country. North Korea’s nuclear program is a threat and deserves to be criticized. But it seems that the real intention behind it is not just for military purposes. It is for: A. getting the attention of the world/USA; and B. internal mobilizing of public opinion behind their leader. I believe that President Trump was right in trying to open the door. There was anyway not much to lose.

President Kim Jong-un has just defined the economy as his main priority, this before foreign policy. I could observe that behind its military industry and its heavy industry, North Korea was giving a growing importance to light industry and consumption. I do believe the economy is now a key component of the solution. There are strong potential economic synergies between both sides of Korea.

What is needed today are PLATFORMS FOR DIALOGUE, to gradually eliminate the misunderstandings that are cultivated by the propaganda on both sides. This is where UPF plays a major role. At the political / diplomatic level, major negotiators need to be the USA and China, and South and North Korea. But countries like Mongolia or Viet Nam, which experienced a successful transition from traditional communism to the open world, could offer useful tips. And the European Union, or countries like Norway or Switzerland, could also play an interesting role as facilitators.

 

 


To go to the World Summit 2022 Schedule page, click here.