Austria is the home of Marianne and Margaritha, two angels who cared for Hansen’s disease patients on Korea’s Sorokdo Island. The country is also the land of classical music, which produced such great composers loved by the Korean people as Mozart, Strauss and Schubert.
It has been 129 years since our diplomatic relations were established, but my visit to Austria is the first by a Korean President. Our two countries forged close cooperative ties regarding the hydrogen economy, carbon neutrality and cultural and youth exchanges. Bilateral relations were also elevated to a strategic partnership. For Austria, this is the only second such relationship following one with Switzerland, another neutral country. Austria’s highly advanced science and technology coupled with Korea’s commercialization abilities will provide an opportunity for both countries to leap forward. I am deeply grateful to President Van der Bellen and Chancellor Kurz for welcoming my delegation with the utmost sincerity.
Austria’s strength comes from the fact that it is a neutral country that has overcome the crisis of division and is proud of being the center of European history and culture. Austria was one of the countries defeated in World War II, but it gained the trust of the victorious nations by forming a successful coalition government that embraced both the left and right. After about 10 years of divide and rule by major powers, it became a fully unified nation. Even now, it has a stable political structure with a grand coalition that transcends ideology. With this power, Austria makes significant contributions to world peace along with the numerous international organizations headquartered in Vienna.
On the diplomatic front, I sense that we are regarded far more highly in the world than we think in terms of our economy and surmounting COVID-19 as well as culture and the arts. Now our turn has come. We can declare the beginning of a new chapter in world history by building a pacesetting nation and a peaceful Korean Peninsula. Our people are fully qualified and capable of doing this.
Austria’s achievements in politics, science, humanities and the arts, born of the Danube River, are magnificent. However, the miraculous chapters of history that have sprung from the Han River do not pale in comparison. Leaving Vienna and heading to Madrid, I think now is the time for us to believe in ourselves.