By Ramesh Jaura
BERLIN | ULAANBAATAR (IDN) – Korean Unification has not been at the heart of a growing thaw in inter-Korean relations. But it was the centerpiece of the International Forum in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Entitled 'Korean Unification through Reduction of Tension and Confidence Building', the Forum on June 7-8, 2018 adopted a Statement drawing attention to "the centenary of the Korean Independence Movement" in 2019 and supporting "the goal of peaceful unification of the Korean people."
The Korean Declaration of Independence read out aloud on March 1, 1919 at Taehwagwan Restaurant in Seoul said: "We herewith proclaim the independence of Korea and the liberty of the Korean people. This we proclaim to all the nations of the world in witness of human equality. This we proclaim to our descendants so that they may enjoy in perpetuity their inherent right to nationhood."
That peaceful initiative laid out the aspirations and ideals for a united, independent, and free Korea, recalls the Statement adopted by the Ulaanbaatar Forum attended by over 40 researchers and 30 civil society organizations from the USA, China, Russia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Mongolia.
The reason why the Ulaanbaatar Forum's Statement has highlighted the forthcoming centenary of the Korean Independence Movement is underlined by the fact that "during the 1920's and 1930's, Korean patriots maintained close contacts with and worked in Mongolia" which, Mongolian sources say, has "left historic imprints rooted in a common heritage of shared values."
Mongolia maintains comprehensive partnership relations with the Republic of Korea (ROK) and a friendly relationship with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the sources add. "It believes that it has a role to play in promoting inter-Korean relations and contributing to regional peace and stability."
The Ulaanbaatar Forum's Statement notes that the aspirations of the Korean Independence Movement are yet to be fulfilled, and "calls on the global community to support the Korean people in their celebration of the centenary as an occasion to advance the goal of One Korea and promote the ideals and principles upon which it should be built."
The Ulaanbaatar Forum, which is first of a series of regional gatherings dedicated to the issue of Korean security and security concerns of all parties involved, supports the current efforts to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula and encourages a process that leads to denuclearization of the peninsula and meets the legitimate.
"It was dedicated to the issue of finding ways to getting closer together the two Koreas in the wake of a very productive inter-Korean summit on April 27 agreeing to the forward looking Panmunjom Declaration that paved the way to holding the Singapore summit" on June 12, Ambassador Jargalsaikhany Enkhsaikan, Chairman of the Blue Banner NGO, a co-organizer of the Forum backed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, told IDN.
He added: "There were different views on the possible outcome of the U.S.-North Korean summit. However everybody agreed that the issue of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula needed to be the main focus and that the two sides should agree on the content of the notion of denuclearization and that a road map of how to reach it needs to be worked out."
Accordingly, the Forum recognizes that the current concerns over security on the peninsula offer "a unique opportunity" to consider the issue of the 70-year division of the Korean people that resulted in war and ongoing dangerous tensions. "Therefore the Forum supports the goal of peaceful unification of the Korean people and the closure of this bitter history that would have not only regional but global impact."
Denuclearization and unification
The Forum calls for launching of a process that leads towards unification that could be pursued in parallel with denuclearization. "Participants agreed that Koreans in both North and South must take the lead in shaping and determining that process of unification with active and energetic support of all interested parties, including the states of Northeast Asia, the United States and the United Nations as a whole."
The Forum sees a unified Korea as a nation that promotes the welfare and prosperity of all its citizens that enjoy the benefits of responsible and responsive government, and that upholds the principles and values of the United Nations Charter and basic human rights and freedoms.
The Forum notes that by the end of the Cold War, Mongolia and the DPRK (North Korea) were at the same starting points to determine their paths of development. "However the course each followed in the past two decades has been markedly different. The Forum sees the Mongolian experience as an example that provides its citizens with responsive governance and the basic human rights and freedoms as reflected in the United Nations Charter."
Mongolia's policy of diplomacy first resulted in acquiring security assurances from the five nuclear weapon states – Britain, China, France, Russia, USA – that its nuclear-weapon-free status would be respected and that they would not contribute to any act that would violate it. That, says Dr. Enkhsaikan, is considered by the UN as Mongolia’s contribution to regional confidence building and predictability.
The Forum expects the leadership of two Koreas – DPRK and ROK – "in the spirit of the Panmunjom Declaration . . . to make direct bilateral engagement and cooperation in the areas of agreement."
ROK President Moon Jae-in and Chairman Kim Jong-un of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK who held an Inter-Korean Summit Meeting at the 'Peace House' at Panmunjom on April 27, 2018 signed the Declaration.
The Declaration said in part: "The two leaders solemnly declared before the 80 million Korean people and the whole world that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula and thus a new era of peace has begun."
The two leaders shared "the firm commitment to bring a swift end to the Cold War relic of longstanding division and confrontation, to boldly approach a new era of national reconciliation, peace and prosperity, and to improve and cultivate inter-Korean relations in a more active manner."
The Statement emerging from Ulaanbaatar adds: "The Forum notes that Mongolia, as an impartial neutral party, can play an important supportive role by sharing its experience, providing good offices and forming part of the region’s nuclear-weapon-free inspection and verification regime."
Since the Forum was held in Ulaanbaatar, Blue Banner Chairman Dr. Enkhsaikan told IDN, special attention was placed on possible role of small states, in this case Mongolia, which believes that the issue needs to have a comprehensive approach. "Thus Mongolia's approach was to focus on soft security and economic issues such as infrastructure development, renewable energy, environmental issues, energy security and even humanitarian cooperation."
Backed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, Global Peace Foundation, EastWest Institute, One Korea Foundation (USA), Action for Korea United (AKU), Blue Banner NGO chaired by Ambassador Jargalsaikhany Enkhsaikan, and Mongolian Forum for Korean Unification co-organized the Forum. Mongolia's National Unification Advisory Council (NUAC), Diplomatic Academy of Mongolia, Global Peace Festival NGO, and CNU National Strategy Institute cooperated.
One session of the event focused on "importance of the Korean National Liberation Movement of 1919" moderated by Professor Elena Boykova of Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Jin Shin, Professor and Co-chair of Action for Korea United, CNU National Strategy Institute moderated the second session on current developments on and around the Korean Peninsula, including Inter-Korean and U.S.-DPRK summit meetings. Dorjjugder Munkh-Ochir, Senior Researcher, National Institute for Security Studies, chaired the third session on reducing tension and building confidence in Northeast Asia.
John Dickson, President of the World Trade and Development Group, moderated the session on Northeast Asian Economic Development, and Blue Banner Chairman Dr. Enkhsaikhan the closing session. [IDN-InDepthNews – 17 June 2018]
Photo: Ulaanbaatar Forum participants engaged in discussion during a break. Credit: Blue Banner.
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
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