I am glad to see you all. We meet again six months after I invited you to Cheong Wa Dae at the end of last year. As you all know, I recently returned from a trip to Europe for the G7 Summit and state visits to Austria and Spain following the successful ROK-U.S. summit during my visit to the United States last month. Today’s meeting has been arranged so that I can explain the results of those events directly to the five heads of constitutional institutions. It is regrettable that National Election Commission’s Chairperson Noh Jeong-hee cannot join us due to a trial schedule conflict today. It was a bit difficult to adjust a date for this meeting because the National Assembly Speaker will depart soon for an overseas trip. I hope the Chief Justice will later provide Chairperson Noh a detailed account.
While in Austria and Spain, I made visits to their parliaments and returned with a message for the National Assembly Speaker. Let me begin with that message. During my meeting with Austria’s President of the National Council, he told me that he was already communicating and consulting with our National Assembly Speaker. He pleaded for National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug to attend the World Conference of Speakers of Parliament to be held in Vienna in September. He also asked me to convey his desire to hold one-on-one talks with Speaker Park in Vienna on the sidelines of the World Conference. As our two countries agreed on close inter-governmental cooperation, his statements made clear that he’d like to see the level of cooperation between both parliaments enhanced.
While in Spain, I visited the Palace of the Senate and addressed the President of the Senate, President of the Congress of Deputies and representatives from Spain’s numerous political parties, around 20. After delivering my speech, I was guided through a tour of the parliament building by the President of the Senate and President of the Congress of Deputies. Of note, they led me to the building’s museum which was created in the 19th century. They seemed to be very proud of the building and the artifacts housed in the museum. Among the historic items, they had specifically put on display a complete map of the Joseon Kingdom from an old atlas. While showing it to me, they said that they expected that it would be the item of most interest for the Korean side.
This 18th century map is the West’s first documented depiction of the entire Joseon Kingdom, and it confirms that the islands of Ulleungdo and Dokdo are Korean territory. We did not request it, but the Spanish side prepared it in advance to show us. Therefore, I believe it was a token of great sincerity toward Korea.
After that, there was a request from the President of the Senate of Spain to be sure to convey to Speaker Park that it would be ideal if the two nations’ parliaments could engage in close exchanges and cooperation. The President of the Senate also said that time-honored materials in the collection of the Spanish Senate Library could be shared if such bilateral exchanges and cooperation are pursued. I would like you to refer to this when engaging in parliamentary diplomacy.
As in the visit to the United States last month, I was able to confirm Korea’s significantly enhanced status and role in the international community on the occasions of my participation in the G7 Summit and the state visits to Austria and Spain. Beginning from the first year of my inauguration, I have participated in many multilateral summits like the G20, ASEM and APEC. I was able to clearly sense that Korea’s status and role have risen tremendously since COVID-19 has created a different situation from those previous years.
In the early days following my Administration’s inauguration, countries around the world marveled indeed at the fact that our country used candlelight rallies to restore democracy and achieve a change of government in a peaceful and refined manner without physical clashes or violent incidents. While undergoing the COVID-19 crisis, they are now highly praising our country’s epidemic control and economic capabilities as well as our standing within global supply chains. They want to cooperate more closely with Korea. At the recent ROK-U.S. summit, our two countries agreed to further strengthen the existing bilateral alliance for military security. Moving beyond this, there was a request for close cooperation in regard to epidemic prevention and control; semiconductors, batteries and mobile communications in which Korea has strengths; and the global supply chain for vaccines. Meanwhile, the United States also asked us to work closely together on climate change responses. Therefore, I gained the sense that the ROK-U.S. alliance is now becoming more comprehensive and global, going beyond one for military and security purposes.
Korea was invited to the G7 Summit for the second consecutive year, following the one in the United States that had been scheduled for last year. This time, Korea, Australia, India and South Africa participated in the event together. Perhaps, the invitations to the Summit were extended because it is not easy for the G7 countries alone to respond to pending global issues. I believe that the purpose was to draw countries that share democratic values and are similar in terms of national strength into their relevant discussions to have more balanced regional representation. So, the invited countries were able to jointly discuss – while standing shoulder to shoulder with the G7 countries – such topics as cooperation on epidemic prevention and control and healthcare; climate change responses; and issues related to an open society, including democracy. What is more, we were able to voice what we had to say.
My trip to Austria and Spain marked the first time these countries hosted state visits since the COVID-19 outbreak. Moreover, it has been 129 years since Korea and Austria established diplomatic relations. Next year will be the 130th anniversary. Both countries established diplomatic ties with Korea when they were empires, and my visit to Austria was the first by a Korean president in that 129 years. Thus, Austria showed great interest and hospitality. Last year was the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Spain. The year prior, in 2019, King Felipe VI made a state visit to Korea to use the anniversary to promote a special leap forward in bilateral relations. I was to make a reciprocal state visit last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the trip, so I visited Spain this year instead. Taking these state visits as an opportunity, Austria and Spain agreed to further promote and strengthen bilateral cooperation with Korea while upgrading our respective relations to strategic partnerships. These are some of the many achievements made. While there, I attended several economic forums, met a number of businesspeople from these two countries and made special requests for economic cooperation. I was able to meet with the CEOs of AstraZeneca and Germany’s CureVac and discuss vaccine-related cooperation.
Anyway, I would like to say that I am very grateful and proud to be able to once again confirm that Korea’s status and role have been greatly upgraded and expanded thanks to our people and the five heads of our constitutional institutions who have always pulled together when needed.
For more details on the results, the Director of National Security will give a separate briefing later, and if you have interest in the economic affairs, the Chief of Staff for Policy will once again report on those issues. I hope we can have a pleasant time and productive conversation today.