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Belarus is a very, very special country for the Republic of KoreaTwo countries share tragic past but make rapid progress

Belarus is a very, very special country for the Republic of Korea (south) who is constantly exposed to the threat and blackmailing by North Korea with a nuclear attack.
In Belarus, three out of every ten persons were killed during World War II. Can one imagine the sorrows and pains suffered by the Belarusian people during WWII?
“It is with the idea of peace that back in 1993 Belarus acceded to the Non-proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon State Party, thus becoming the first country to voluntarily denounce the possibility to possess nuclear weapons inherited from the former Soviet Union.” So said Ambassador Natallia Zhylevich of Belarus at a reception hosted by the Embassy at Lotte Hotel in Seoul on June 22, 2016 in celebration of her National Day.
Several hundred distinguished guests attended the reception from all walks of life from Korean society and international community.
Among them were Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs Lee Tae-ho, President Yoon Kyung-duk of IKSemicon and Vice President Emiliano J.W. Lee of Dungsung Pharmaceutical Company.

▲Photo shows Ambassador Natallia Zhylevich of Belarus and Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Tae-ho (eighth and ninth from right, front row, respectively) with many ambassadors and other Korean and international guests. Korean Honorary Consul Yoon Kyung-duk for Belarus (concurrently president of IKSemicon) is seen the 10th from right, in the front row.


In response to Ambassador Zhylevich’s welcome speech, Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Tae-ho recalled in his congratulatory message: “I was deeply impressed by the beautiful nature of Belarus, the warm hospitality of its people, and the high level of economic and scientific development of the country.” Then he said that the two countries suffered historically from continuous foreign invasions but defended their homelands with courageous spirit and sacrifices and successfully maintained their national identity.”
Excerpts from the speeches of the ambassador and the deputy foreign minister follow:

Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Zhylevich:
It is my honour to welcome you on the occasion of the National Day of the Republic of Belarus. Thank you very much for being with us today.
It is a mere coincidence that we meet on the 22nd of June. It is a memorable day in the history of the 20th century. On this day 75 years ago World War II came into my country. 30% of the Belarusian people died during the war. And it is not at random, that the National Day of Belarus is the day when the occupation was over.
It is with the idea of peace that back in 1993 Belarus acceded to the Non-proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon State Party, thus becoming the first country to voluntarily denounce the possibility to possess nuclear weapons inherited from the former Soviet Union. Renunciation by my country of the most modern nuclear military arsenal was never subject to any conditions or reservations. Russia, UK and USA provided security assurances to Belarus. This precedent is an example of settling nuclear disarmament issues in the interest of international peace and security.
War has never started in Belarus, neither has it in Korea. And peace and security in this part of the world is as meaningful to us as it is among our European neighbours.
In spite of the geographical distance between the two countries, we are happy to say that the ties among the people are getting steady and stable. We observe sustainable progress in bilateral trade, implementation of numerous joint projects in fundamental science and technology, ICT. Twin city ties prove to have good perspectives.
Now that the Eurasian Economic Union opens up new opportunities, removes barriers and broadens the geography of trade and economic cooperation, we are looking with new hope at a most breathtaking prospects lying ahead of us.
I am sure that with you support we would open a new era of dynamic relations between Belarus and Korea.

Excrpts from the congratulatory speech by Vice Miniter Lee:
It is my great honor and privilege to be here this evening to commemorate, together with all of you, the National Day of the Republic of Belarus. On behalf of the government and the people of the Republic of Korea, I wish to convey to you, Madam Ambassador, and to the Government and people of the Republic of Belarus, my heartfelt congratulations.
A month ago, I had an opportunity to visit Minsk to lead the 4th Session of the Joint Committee on Economy and Science & Technology. Not only have I had a pleasant and fruitful discussion over a wide range of issues, but I was also deeply impressed by the beautiful nature of Belarus, the warm hospitality of its people, and the high level of economic and scientific development of the country.
Surprisingly, these three qualities seem to be what many foreigners find when they first visit Korea and meet Korean people. On top of that, both countries suffered historically from continuous foreign invasions but defended their homelands with courageous spirit and sacrifices and successfully maintained their national identity. I believe that these resemblances are indeed the basis that supports the bilateral relations and enhances our ties.
I am happy to note that trade and investment between the two countries are on the steady rise. The establishment of the KOTRA Minsk office in 2014 as well as the first direct investment made by a Korean company in Belarus in 2014 served as catalyst in that direction. In addition, the joint projects on ICT, the traditional area of cooperation, will be further reinforced by the establishment of a Korea and Belarus IT Center in the near future.
At the last Joint Committee, both governments agreed to explore further opportunities of cooperation in such areas as energy, pharmaceutics, and e-trading. As Ambassador Zhylevich pointed out, the launch of the Eurasian Economic Union, of which Belarus is part beginning January 2015, and the Union’s gradual cooperation with Korea are expected to give additional impetus to the deepening bilateral economic relations.
Not only on economic fronts, but also in the political area, Belarus presents a symbolic importance for the Korean peninsula. As Ambassador Zhylevich mentioned, Belarus voluntarily scrapped its nuclear arsenal after the collapse of the Soviet Union and has strived to promote a safe and sound international community ever since. Also, Minsk became a venue of peaceful agreements and reconciliations. North Korea should heed to what Belarus has to say for the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia. An old Belarusian proverb goes “the one who seeks no friends is his own enemy.” We all know that isolation is neither the road to happiness nor prosperity.
Next year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Korea and Belarus. I hope that we can make the most out of this celebration to boost another quarter century of remarkable partnership.
Before I conclude, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Ambassador Zhylevich whose tenure is drawing to a close. Thanks to her dedication and hard work, our two countries have formed closer bonds of friendship and cooperation.
While congratulating you, Madame Ambassador, once again on your National Day, I would like to propose to raise our glasses to wish for the ever-lasting relations of friendship and cooperation between our two countries.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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