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V. Petrovsky: Address to Summit 2022, Session VIIa

Address to Summit 2022 and Leadership Conference,
Seoul, Korea, August 11-15, 2022


Ladies and gentlemen, I suggest that we now go back to the problems of the Korean Peninsula. The goal of my presentation was to try to assess the Northeast Asia peace initiative run by the UPF against the background of the inter-Korean dialog as a whole, including international aspects, specifically dealing with the North Korean nuclear and missile problem.

On the next slide, we see the key aspects of the inter-Korean dialog, which is a political or security dialog, a 100% official domain, and includes the talks on the North Korean nuclear and missile program, which were discussed earlier today. It is also an attempt to put an end to the Korean War with a peace treaty or some other official way.

Then another key aspect of the dialog is the so-called Sunshine Policy, which was used by several administrations of the Republic of Korea, and then a new attempt which was made by President Moon Jae-in. Actually, there was a possibility of a new sunshine policy. Why not?

Other key aspects are economic cooperation, development assistance, humanitarian dialog and people-to-people diplomacy. We understand that the Northeast Asia Peace Initiative played a very special role in this particular aspect.

The Northeast Asia Peace Initiative was established in the year 2003. The goal was to move toward peaceful reconciliation of the Korean peninsula. Not unification. Reconciliation. The key focus of the initiative is trying to bring together North and South Korea in terms of people-to-people dialog, mutual understanding, humanitarian assistance and humanitarian dialog. The methods have been arts, cultural exchanges, and also service programs.

The Peace Embassy was established in Pyongyang and the social part in this initiative has been the trade and economic projects run by the founding father and by the whole organization.

This has not been easy. This dialog has continued for quite a long time. There are dramatic differences in population, in economic potential, and in active military troops, as you can see on this slide. So it’s not easy at all.

We see the biggest problem of our time, which is North Korea’s nuclear and missile program. I think it’s necessary to stress that the whole issue of the nuclear missile problem should not be used as a kind of prerequisite for the inter-Korean dialog. I think that they should go in parallel. After all, if we consider that North Korea would not abandon its nuclear missile program at all, which we discussed yesterday and even today, does it mean that the North and South Korea dialog could or should be stopped? I think no.

We have had a whole series of United States–North Korea talks on the nuclear missile problem. We know the efforts, the whole series of sanctions that was imposed by the U.N. Security Council on North Korea, including the recent very tough sanctions.

This slide is just an example of one of the toughest sanctions, which makes it nearly impossible for North Korea to do business and trade with any other outside partners. But does it mean that the North Korean nuclear and missile program stopped? Not at all. Which means that probably there is a certain limit of this effort. These sanctions cannot stop completely the North Korean efforts to upgrade their nuclear and missile potential. Now the members of the U.N. Security Council, specifically Russia—my country—and China, suggest that maybe in a step-by-step approach which we discussed earlier today, that at least part of the sanctions could be eased or lifted in exchange for more responsible North Korean behavior. It’s quite possible, especially now when the North Korean economy suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic. We foresee a release of these sanctions. But finally, they do not work.

I would like to give a very brief overview of the Sunshine Policy of the Seoul government. It included, as you see on this slide, people-to-people exchanges, visits to Mt. Kumgang, some tourist complexes and the establishment of an industrial complex. But then after the North Korean nuclear and missile tests in the year 2006, these activities were suspended. In the year 2017, newly elected President Moon Jae-in tried to renew the Sunshine Policy in new circumstances.

He was very much inclusive regarding North and South Korea dialog, official dialog, and the two leaders also signed the Panmunjom Declaration to formalize people-to-people exchanges, and some other important things like transparency in military matters established along the DMZ.

Then there was the second North and South summit, which set the stage for the summit between the North Korean leader and President Trump. Then the third summit in September 2018 resulted in the Pyongyang Declaration to resume economic, cultural and family exchanges.

The fourth summit did not materialize because Kim Jong-un was not ready to offer some specific steps forward towards denuclearization without a lifting of at least part of the sanctions. President Trump insisted that the sanctions should not be lifted without some steps toward complete denuclearization.

I would like to stress that President Moon Jae-in always considered his policy towards the North as a step toward reducing the nuclear and missile threat.

The next key component of the inter-Korean dialog is economic cooperation and development assistance, which is important to motivate North Korea to be engaged in dialog, to induce North Korea to economic reforms, to facilitate inter-Korean economic cooperation, and to promote regional economic cooperation in Northeast Asia.

Infrastructure is important in terms of how to try to help the North Korean economy. First of all, food, energy and transportation are three key shortages in North Korea. Basically, any kind of economic development assistance, I think, should be concentrated on these three.

At least several inter-Korean economic projects have been considered during these years, including some rail and highway connections, Kaesong Industrial Park Kumgang conference on Tourism, etc.

North Korea’s neighboring countries, China and Russia, also have been discussing projects with Pyongyang. On the Chinese side, they include the development of a port, a road to connect to some new bridges, and a Pyongyang thermal power plant project.

The Russian initiative basically deals with the infrastructure and with energy supplies. Russia suggested the continuation of the Hassan-jin rail renovation. Also, oil delivery by rail and oil refining was considered along with the Vladivostok-Chongjin electricity project. Russia suggested that a gas pipeline be built along the whole Korean peninsula. That was good idea, to bring together north and south, if the North agreed. Then there was a series of programs administrated by the technical assistance programs run by the United Nations involving Russia, China and North Korea.

To summarize, I would like to say that there is a whole list of achievements and some mistakes in the course of the official inter-Korean dialog. We have some victories, we have some defeats. This is important for us, for the UPF and for the Northeast Asia Peace Initiative in terms of what lessons should be learned.

I believe the Northeast Asia Peace Initiative could and should be continued. To my mind, the major lesson to be learned is that we need a more comprehensive and more focused approach. Much progress was made in terms of people to people, diplomacy exchanges and cultural and arts programs. But then I think the initiative should concentrate more on other aspects of the inter-Korean relationship, which we discussed, keeping in mind that all affiliated organizations are civil society institutions. We have our own approach. We have our own mechanism and our own specific resources.

To conclude, I think that one method that should be used in the course of the initiative is the expansion of existing programs, which depends on the resources available and time and other conditions. Then I think we should consider a public diplomacy dialog on the finalization of the Korean War. Official bodies tried to discuss it, including the very recent attempt by President Moon Jae-in to promote the special U.N. Security Council resolution as a document to finalize the war. Why should we not discuss the same issue as a civil society institution?

Then, regarding nuclear and missile talks, why not try to do something that was practiced within G8 previously when Russia was in the G7? They call it civil G-8 or civil GSM, meaning that the same issues should be discussed by civil society institutions of the respective countries. I think you could try to practice this.

And finally, more focus should be put on development assistance and on humanitarian relief. That’s what I want to see. Actually, this has been an attempt to consider this issue and I hope it can be considered more inside our association. Thank you.



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