The Korber Foundation, headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, is a nonprofit organization established by German businessman Kurt Korber. President Moon Jae-in announced his vision for peace, his “Berlin Peace Initiative,” at Berlin’s Old City Hall at the invitation of the Korber Foundation on July 6, 2017.
Esteemed German citizens, my fellow Koreans, Dr. Thomas Paulsen, executive board member of the Korber Foundation, Mr. Hans Modrow, former Prime Minister of East Germany, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen!
First of all, I would like to express my endless respect for Germany and the German people for overcoming the Cold War and national division, accomplishing unification, and with this strength, leading the integration of Europe and international peace. I greatly appreciate the Federal Government of Germany and the Korber Foundation for arranging this event today. Moreover, I extend my deepest condolences and sympathy to the bereaved family and the German people on the passing of your former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. The Republic of Korea will remember Chancellor Kohl’s legacy of leading the unification of Germany and European integration through active and bold diplomacy despite the challenging environment of the Cold War.
Distinguished guests from home and abroad, seventeen years ago, here in this city of Berlin, President Kim Dae-jung of the Republic of Korea made the “Berlin Declaration,” which laid the foundation for reconciliation and cooperation between South and North Korea. Moreover, the Altes Stadthaus is a historic site where the German Unification Treaty was negotiated. Today, at the very place where the lessons of Berlin still linger, I would like to outline the peace initiative of the new Korean Administration.
Distinguished guests, to Korea, the last nation on earth divided by Cold War rivalries, the experience of Germany’s unification gives hope for unification and, at the same time, shows us the path that we should follow. First and foremost, it shows us the importance of the process leading to unification. Germany’s unification made us realize how important the process of peace and cooperation based on mutual respect really is. The German people made the decision to reunify by themselves based on the trust that was built during this process. The citizens of East and West Germany interacted and cooperated with each other in various areas, and the two Governments guaranteed this institutionally. Nonpolitical exchanges in the private sector unlatched the gate of political ideology and the people from East and West Germany started to open their hearts toward each other.
The fact that the Ostpolitik continued for around two decades is also an important point. The reason that a consistent policy was possible in spite of the change of administrations is that it was supported by the people and was built upon the cooperation of the international community. Germany understood that when a peaceful order was created in Europe, its unification would also be possible under that structure. By keeping pace with and at times persuading the international community, Germany was able to obtain strong security and was assured of support for inter-German relations. The German unification process, which was initiated by Chancellor Willy Brandt, was completed under Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who was from a different political party. Likewise, I believe that to achieve peace and common prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, there should be continued cooperation that transcends partisan lines.
Distinguished guests, for the Korean people who long for peace and unification of the Korean Peninsula, Berlin is remembered together with President Kim’s Berlin Declaration. President Kim s Berlin Declaration led to the first inter-Korean Summit in 2000 and brought about a grand transformation which enabled the South and the North, which had been in confrontation and conflict for more than six decades after division and the War, to enter onto a path of reconciliation and cooperation. Following this path, former President Roh Moo-hyun set a new milestone in the development of inter-Korean relations and peace and prosperity through the second inter-Korean Summit in 2007. President Kim Dae-jung and President Roh Moo-hyun also promoted international cooperation in order for peace to take root on the Korean Peninsula.
At the time, the Six-Party Talks adopted the September 19 Joint Statement in 2005 and the February 13 Agreement in 2007, both of which outlined the principles and direction for resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. There was also progress in North Korea-U.S. relations and North Korea-Japan relations. I will inherit these two former Administrations’ efforts and, at the same time, will have my Administration take a leading role in embarking on the dauntless journey toward establishing a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
Distinguished guests from home and abroad, the biggest challenge that the Korean Peninsula is facing is the North Korean nuclear issue. North Korea is continuing its nuclear and missile provocations and is threatening the peace on the Korean Peninsula, in Northeast Asia, and furthermore, the world. In particular, the missile provocation just two days ago was a very disappointing and terribly wrong decision. It is not only a clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions but is also an outright rejection of the repeated warnings by the international community. Above all, for my Administration, which had at long last arranged a path toward dialogue through the recent Korea-U.S. Summit, the level of regret is even deeper. This choice by the North was reckless. It will incur punishment by the international community. It is testing my Administration’s commitment that if North Korea stopped its provocative actions and showed its determination to denuclearize, my Administration would lead the way in helping the North receive support and cooperation from the international community.
I hope that North Korea will not cross the bridge of no return. North Korea must give up its nuclear and missile programs and find a way to cooperate with the international community. The complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the agreed demand of the international community and is the absolute condition for peace on the Korean Peninsula. This means that the decision for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the only way that the security of North Korea will be guaranteed. Therefore, I would like to emphasize that now is the last chance for North Korea to make the right decision and also the best time to do so. This is because we have reached the tipping point of the vicious circle of military escalation, and thus, the need for dialogue is more pressing than ever before. It is also important to note that the basic conditions have been met for restarting the Korean Peninsula Peace Process, which had been halted.
Recently, Korea and the United States agreed on the overall direction that sanctions are a diplomatic tool and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula should be achieved in a peaceful manner. Our two countries also made clear that we do not have a hostile policy toward North Korea. We affirmed that, together with the international community, we can provide a brighter future to North Korea, depending on its decision. Korea and the United States also share the view that in order to create a breakthrough in the current crisis on the Korean Peninsula, improvement in inter-Korean relations is vital. President Trump supports Korea taking the leading role in creating an environment conducive to the peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula, as well as my initiative to reopen inter-Korean dialogue. Chinese President Xi Jinping and I also reached a consensus on this matter.
Now the only thing left is for North Korea to make its decision. Whether it will come out to the forum for dialogue, or whether it will kick away this opportunity for dialogue that has been made with difficulty, is a decision only North Korea can make. But if North Korea does not stop its nuclear provocations, there will be no other choice but to further strengthen sanctions and pressure. Peace on the Korean Peninsula and North Korea’s security will not be guaranteed. I urge North Korea to accept this very significant and urgent signal of the determination of my Administration and the international community for peace on the Korean Peninsula, and I look forward to their doing so.
Distinguished guests, now I would like to outline my Administration’s policy direction that will lead to the dismantlement of the Cold War structure and the establishment of a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
First, what we are pursuing is only peace. A peaceful Korean Peninsula is a peninsula free from the threat of nuclear weapons and war. It is a peninsula where the South and the North recognize and respect each other and live together in harmony. We already know the road that leads to a peaceful Korean Peninsula. It is a return to the June 15 South-North Joint Declaration of 2000 and the October 4 Declaration of 2007. Through these two declarations, the South and the North clearly stated that we are the masters of inter-Korean issues and are committed to closely cooperating in easing tensions and guaranteeing peace on the Korean Peninsula. The two Koreas also promised to walk the path of common prosperity through cooperative projects in every sector of society, including in the economic field. The spirit of these agreements that were achieved on the foundation of mutual respect between the South and the North is still valid. The matter is urgent. We must return to that spirit where the South and the North worked together toward realizing a peaceful Peninsula.
I clearly state the following: we do not wish for North Korea’s collapse, and will not work toward any kind of unification through absorption. Neither will we pursue an artificial unification. Unification is a process where both sides seek coexistence, co-prosperity and a restored sense of national community. When peace is established, unification will be realized naturally someday through an agreement between the South and the North. What my Administration and I would like to realize is only peace.
Second, my Administration will pursue the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula that guarantees the security of the North Korean regime. Last April, rumors that we were on the brink of war swept over the Korean Peninsula and the entire world. Military tension surrounding the Korean Peninsula made the situation like a “powder keg.” We urgently need to ease the military tension on the Korean Peninsula. We need to rebuild the trust that has collapsed between the South and the North. In this regard, we will seek exchanges and dialogue. North Korea also needs to suspend any further nuclear provocations. We need to establish a military management system to prevent accidental clashes.
A more fundamental problem is to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. The North Korean nuclear issue has become much more difficult to deal with compared to the past because of the advancement of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. A step-by-step and comprehensive approach is required. My Administration, in cooperation with the international community, will work toward a comprehensive solution to the current issues on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, including the complete dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear program and the establishment of a peace regime, the easing of North Korea’s security and economic concerns, and improvement in North Korea-U.S. and North Korea-Japan relations. However, it takes two to tango. This is only possible when North Korea fully stops its nuclear provocations and meets for bilateral and multilateral dialogue on denuclearization.
Third, my Administration will work toward establishing a permanent peace regime. The Korean Peninsula has been under an armistice for more than 60 years since 1953. Firm peace cannot be realized under an unstable armistice system. The invaluable agreements between the South and the North should not be shaken or broken every time there is a change of administrations. We need to institutionalize peace. My Administration will work toward enacting into law the inter-Korean agreements. We will make it clear that all agreements between the South and the North are basic assets of the Korean Peninsula that should be passed on when there is a change of administrations. In order to establish a permanent peace structure on the Korean Peninsula, we need to conclude a peace treaty with the participation of relevant countries and formally end the war. Through a comprehensive approach to the North Korean nuclear issue and the establishment of a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, my Administration will pursue the conclusion of a peace treaty along with complete denuclearization.
Fourth, my Administration will work toward drawing a new economic map on the Korean Peninsula. Economic cooperation so that the South and the North can prosper together is an important foundation for establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula. I have planned a “new economic map for the Korean Peninsula.” If there is progress in the North Korean nuclear issue and if appropriate conditions are met, my Administration will draw a new economic map on the Korean Peninsula. We will freshly connect the South and the North, which have been disconnected by the Military Demarcation Line, with an economic belt and establish an economic community where the two Koreas can prosper together. The severed inter-Korean railway will be connected again. A train departing from Busan and Mokpo will run through Pyeongyang and Beijing and head toward Russia and Europe. Cooperation projects in Northeast Asia, such as the gas pipeline project connecting the two Koreas and Russia, may also be implemented. South and North Korea will prosper together as a bridge connecting the Asian mainland and the Pacific. The South and the North need only to implement the October 4 Declaration together. Then the world will see a new economic model of an economy of peace and co-prosperity.
Fifth, my Administration will consistently pursue non-political exchanges and cooperation projects by separating them from the political and military situation. The exchanges and cooperation projects between South and North Korea constitute the process of healing the wounds and realizing reconciliation among all residents of the Korean Peninsula and are also efforts to build peace from within. In both Koreas, there are separated families who can no longer visit their hometown due to the division and war. It is truly an embarrassment for both governments in the South and the North that we have not been able to heal these scars for more than six decades. Among the separated family members who have applied to the Korean Government to meet their families in the North, only around 60,000 are still alive and their average age is 81. The situation in North Korea will likely be the same. We need to let them meet their relatives while they are still alive. This is a pressing humanitarian issue that needs to be addressed before any political considerations.
Issues that the peoples of the South and the North suffer from due to the division need to be addressed by the authorities of the two Koreas. When the rivers in North Korea overflow, the people in South Korea suffer from floods. Infectious diseases, forest pests and forest fires do not abide by the boundaries between the South and the North. My Administration will work for the South and the North to cooperate in jointly addressing these problems. Exchanges in the private sector have contributed to easing tensions and fostering a sense of common identity between the two Koreas ahead of exchanges between the two Governments. Expanding exchanges in the private sector is a valuable asset that can help untie the tight knot between the South and the North. My Administration will widely support exchanges in the private sector in various areas. We will also actively support exchanges among different regions. Universal values and international norms of respecting human dignity must be observed throughout the Korean Peninsula. My Administration will join the international community in raising a clear voice against the poor human rights situation of the North Korean people. In addition, my Administration will expand its humanitarian cooperation in a way that will actually help the North Korean people.
Distinguished guests, my Administration and I will firmly hold to these policy directions and implement them. The South and the North need to work hand-in-hand and make a breakthrough in realizing peace on the Korean Peninsula. I suggest to North Korea that we first start with what is easy.
First, let us solve the pressing humanitarian issue. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the October 4 Declaration. Also, Chuseok, which is one of our nation’s greatest traditional holidays, falls on October 4 this year. In the October 4 Declaration, the two Koreas agreed to expand family reunions between relatives separated in the North and the South. If family reunions can be held on this day when these two meaningful anniversaries overlap, it would be a meaningful start to respecting and observing the agreement already made between the South and the North. If North Korea is ready to take one step further, I suggest that we also include visiting ancestral graves for this year’s family reunion event. The separated family members of the divided Germany were allowed not only exchanges of letters and phone calls but even exchanges of visits and migration. There is no reason why we cannot do the same. Before more members of separated families leave us, we must wipe their tears. If North Korea is not ready immediately, our side will allow North Korean separated family members to visit their hometowns and ancestral graves in the South. I look forward to North Korea’s positive response and hope that South-North Korean Red Cross talks will be held to discuss the reunion of separated family members.
Second, let us make the PyeongChang Winter Olympics an “Olympics of Peace” with the participation of the North. In February 2018, the Winter Olympics will be held in PyeongChang, Korea, which is only 100 km away from the Military Demarcation Line. Two years later in 2020, the Summer Olympics will be held in Tokyo, and in 2022, the Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing. My Administration would like to suggest to North Korea to utilize these series of precious events held in Asia as an opportunity to build peace on the Korean Peninsula, in Northeast Asia and the world. Sports have the power of connecting one heart to another. When athletes from South and North Korea, and from the rest of the world, sweat and compete against each other, offer a hand to fellow athletes who have fallen down and embrace each other, the world will witness peace through the Olympic games. I look forward to opening together a new era of peace on the Korean Peninsula while applauding together with the leaders of the world. As the IOC has promised its cooperation on the issue of the participation of North Korea in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, I look forward to North Korea’s active and positive response.
Third, let us mutually halt acts of hostility around the Military Demarcation Line. Even at this moment, a war without gunfire continues along the MDL on the Korean Peninsula. The escalation of military tension between the two militaries remains unchanged. This situation increases the danger of armed conflict between the South and the North and threatens the safety of the people who live in the areas nearby on both sides. July 27 this year marks the 64th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement. If the two Koreas, starting on this day, stopped all acts of hostility that escalate military tension along the MDL, it would provide a meaningful opportunity to ease tensions between the two Koreas.
Fourth, inter-Korean dialogue is necessary for peace on the Korean Peninsula and South-North cooperation. Easing tension on the Korean Peninsula is the most urgent issue between the South and the North. The current situation, under which there is no contact between the relevant authorities of the South and the North, is very dangerous. We need to start with contacts to manage the situation and move on to meaningful dialogue. I am ready to meet with Chairman Kim Jong Un of North Korea at any time at any place, if the conditions are met and if it will provide an opportunity to ease the tension and confrontation on the Korean Peninsula. We can place on the dialogue table all issues of interest between the South and the North, including the nuclear issue and a peace treaty, and discuss peace on the Korean Peninsula and inter-Korean cooperation.
The situation will not be resolved with only one attempt. However, making a start is important. One can take a step forward only after rising up from one’s seat. I look forward to North Korea’s decision.
Distinguished guests, Germany overcame the Cold War and achieved unification before Korea, but it is now facing other threats to peace, such as regionalism, terrorism and the sudden influx of refugees. I believe that Germany, through the spirit of democracy and peaceful coexistence, which was witnessed in Berlin, will overcome these new challenges and complete the integration of German society and Europe.
The Republic of Korea will also surely realize a peaceful Korean Peninsula through the power of its mature democracy. We will complete in Seoul and Pyeongyang the dismantlement of the Cold War structure, which started in Berlin. Furthermore, we will spread a new vision of peace in Northeast Asia and the rest of the world. Germany and Korea will not stop their march toward peace. Our two countries will always support and cheer each other in solidarity. Let us firmly walk together toward a better life for humankind and a brighter future for the world. Thank you very much.