By Feature Editor Sung Jung-wook
President Moon Jae-in said, “Peace on the Korean Peninsula will contribute to peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia, ASEAN and other Asia-Pacific countries.” Speaking in his Opening Remarks at the 14th East Asia Summit on Nov. 4, 2019, President Moon then stated, “ I request the EAS’s joint action for our efforts to turn the Demilitarized Zone in Korea into an international peace zone.”
Excerpts from the speech of President Moon follow:
The East Asia Summit has provided direction whenever new challenges – violent extremism, chemical weapons, infectious diseases, marine plastic debris – have come our way and has helped transform East Asia with concrete actions. I am very pleased in particular this year that three Leaders’ Statements have been adopted concerning a partnership for sustainability, combating the spread of illicit drugs and cooperation to combat transnational crime. The Republic of Korea jointly proposed the Statement on Cooperation to Combat Transnational Crime and will host the first ROK-ASEAN ministerial meeting on transnational crime.
Going forward, Korea will continue to work with the EAS participating countries to meet the challenges facing East Asia. Chairman and leaders of member states, Opinions shared with leaders at last year’s summit for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula have been of immense help to the peace process on the Peninsula. The Chairman’s statement and the welcome statements issued by East Asian heads of state and ministers on the occasion of the inter-Korean summits and first United States-North Korea summit served as a great boost as well.
However, the most critical juncture in the entire process of achieving denuclearization and establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula still remains. I hope that efforts made thus far will come to fruition through working-level negotiations between North Korea and the United States and a third U.S.-North Korea summit. Denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula cannot be achieved without the international community’s support and cooperation. I believe that if North Korea takes earnest measures, the international community would have to act accordingly.
During my speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September this year, I proposed transforming the Demilitarized Zone that cuts across the midriff of the Korean Peninsula into an international peace zone. If the international community joins the efforts to remove mines in the DMZ and the United Nations and other international organizations open offices there, the Zone can serve as a security guarantee on the Korean Peninsula. This will ensure the North’s security institutionally and realistically while at the same time bringing permanent peace to the South.
Peace on the Korean Peninsula will contribute to peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia, ASEAN and other Asia-Pacific countries. I request the EAS’s joint action for our efforts to turn the DMZ into an international peace zone. Chairman and leaders of member states, Korea welcomes the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific adopted by ASEAN leaders in June this year and endorses its principles of ASEAN Centrality, openness, inclusivity, transparency and respect for international law.
In particular, it is all the more meaningful that “connectivity, maritime affairs, the economy and sustainable development” have been selected as the priority areas for cooperation. The Republic of Korea aims to achieve common prosperity together with ASEAN member states, India and other Asia-Pacific countries through the New Southern Policy. Korea also aspires to further strengthen connectivity with ASEAN through the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit and the inaugural Mekong-Republic of Korea Summit to be held in Busan.
Moreover, Korea joined the Indian Ocean Rim Association as a Dialogue Partner last year and launched the Trade and Tourism Promotion Project along with Pacific Island nations. Korea will support mutually beneficial cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region in partnership with various regional cooperation initiatives. To maintain a peaceful ocean, it is important for the South China Sea, a key maritime route in the region, to be demilitarized and for the freedom of sea and air navigation there to be guaranteed. I hope that an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea will be discussed in a way that respects international law and the rights and interests of all nations.
I would like to stress that most nations in East Asia have grown through free trade via sea routes. Korea believes that a free and fair trade system based on rules is the only way for sustainable development and will join the efforts of the East Asia Summit in that regard. We have prevailed over challenges facing us by sharing wisdom on peace and prosperity at the East Asia Summit. If close cooperation among the countries in the region continues, East Asia’s dynamism and potential will swiftly lead to prosperity. Thank you.