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Speeches

J. Barroso: Address to World Summit 2022, Summit for Peace Assembly & One Million Rally

Address to World Summit
February 11-13, 2022

 

Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon; Your Excellencies, co-chairs of this Summit for Peace in the Korean Peninsula: Prime Minister Hun Sen from Cambodia and former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon; distinguished guests, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends:  First of all, let me say that it's indeed a great honor and pleasure for me to be here today with you and somehow bring a voice for peace from Europe and from the European Union.

The European Union is indeed about peace. That was the reason why the European Union was created in the 1950s of the last century. It started as a common market, an idea of economic integration. But the idea, the great value, was through economic integration to reach a political goal—I would say one of the most important values of all: precisely peace.

And it was the reason why in 2012, the European Union received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, and I had the honor to receive that prize on behalf of the European Union.  Because we are committed to peace among our members, our current 27 countries, but also we are committed to peace in the world.

So it should not come as a surprise to anyone that the European Union strongly supports Korean reunification and is in favor of reconciliation and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The European Union has shown its consistent support for this process. The European Union believes that it is important that the Republic of Korea engages with the DPRK so that it will be possible to make peace, reconciliation and reunification of the peninsula. I'm here speaking on my own behalf, no longer representing the government of my country, which I served as the head of government for twelve years, or the European Commission, which I had the honor to serve for two mandates for ten years.

But let me tell you, based on that experience—the experience of leading a very old country of Europe and also leading the European Union, at that time with 28 members—let me tell you that I really believe there is an imperative of hope for the Korean Peninsula. We know the difficulties, and there are certainly very serious obstacles, but we know that there are also conditions to make progress now, provided there is goodwill on both sides. We have seen before that progress is possible. For instance, we have seen some lights of hope in 2008, but the truth is that those efforts were not sustained politically over time. That's why we should not underestimate the difficulties and obstacles.

But I continue to think that mutual respect between the Koreas can and should be the basis for progress toward unification. Public participation and cooperation should also form the basis of this open process. The Republic of Korea has given clear evidence of good faith and of its willingness to make progress toward cooperation and de-escalation of tensions. It seems appropriate for the DPRK now to reciprocate: namely, making some concrete and credible steps toward denuclearization.  The peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula and the denuclearization of it are very important indeed. First of all, of course, it is important for the Koreans themselves, but also for the whole region and indeed for the global community.

All these issues matter. Denuclearization, reunification, peace and prosperity are interlinked, and at the end it's about reconciliation, true reconciliation, and that's probably something we can learn from the experience of Europe.  With the former enemies that were fighting for so many centuries, like France and Germany, today there is true reconciliation.  And also Germany, which was divided into East and West Germany, now is only one Germany with only one people. So there are very good reasons for inspiration.

While other powers from the region and also global powers – and we already heard today some very important messages – may have a legitimate interest in this process, because this process in Korea may affect regional and global peace, the reality is that the main responsibility is upon the Koreans themselves to make this happen. When I visited the DMZ ten years ago as president of the European Commission, I was really impressed because I could see the physical expression on the ground of that division, and that's why I want to reinforce that point.

It's up to the Koreans themselves to show their sincere willingness and their commitment to reconciliation. Only through that process will there be conditions for the process to succeed. In my political, diplomatic experience, I followed several peace processes, including in Africa. In some, I have even intervened as mediator. Let me just give an example.

It was Angola, a country in Africa. There was a terrible civil war immediately after the country achieved independence. I remember well that at that time some were proposing the partition, the division of that country. They said it was impossible for the Angolans to live together in peace, but at the end both parties, in spite of all their differences, have shown commitment to a united Angola, and now it's a united country that is living in peace and, in fact, in reconciliation. So in the history of international relations, there are several cases of division that afterward became cases of reunification and peace.

I'm not now suggesting that Korea should follow this or that path. We know well that each case is a unique case. It's for the Koreans themselves to find a specific Korean way to achieve this peace and reconciliation.  As has happened in any international conflict, there are internal causes and external conditions, and I think it is important to make the difference between internal causes and external conditions. What the global community can do—and I believe it should do—is to show strong support to facilitate through these external conditions, creating the best external conditions for the Koreans themselves to find a way to true reconciliation and peace.

So what should be done now? I believe, in the short term, it's critically important to resume dialogue, to create confidence-building measures, and also—when the time comes—to create summits between the leaders. Of course, we have to have in mind the medium and long term, in which peace and unification can be achieved only through this reconciliation and denuclearization process.  That requires patience, and in many of our languages “patience” and “peace” have exactly the same root. Peace is, in fact, based on patience.

It means step by step. It means perseverance, it means resilience. It means commitment. It means sustainability over time. It means determination, sometimes very discreet. But I believe it is possible to do it. So is there hope? Yes, there is hope. There is hope because, for instance, we have this conference here.

There is hope because the forces of good are stronger than the forces of evil. And as Nelson Mandela once said, it always seems impossible until it's done. But how can we say that there is hope when we see so many differences? We saw the launch of the Think Tank 2022, launched by my good friend Ban Ki-moon, in which the leadership of that think tank has experts all over the world, and I believe their wisdom and their expertise will give a great contribution.  And we see also other important movements all over the world.

Let me say, to conclude, a very sincere word of appreciation for the great work of UPF and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon for their remarkable commitment to peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula. I believe all those who are committed to peace and reconciliation, all those who recognize the imperative of hope, deserve our recognition and our admiration.

If I may conclude with the words of the Gospel of Matthew, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”

I thank you for your attention.

 

 


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