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EU offers Koreas guidance on a pathway to peace

Head of its foreign policy says skillful diplomacy is essential
Aug 03,2018
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Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy [EUROPEAN COMMISSION AUDIOVISUAL SERVICE]
The European Union is ready to offer the Koreas its experience and expertise in peace-building and reconciliation, said the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini.

Mogherini, 45, the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy and vice president of the European Commission, noted that “truly peaceful, long-lasting solutions can only be achieved through diplomacy and negotiation.”

In a written interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily ahead of a two-day trip to Seoul that kicks off Sunday, Mogherini said the EU “fully supports” South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s efforts to secure peace and security on a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.

“There are many things that we as the European Union can offer,” she said, “in the pursuit of long-lasting peace on the Peninsula.”

She cited Europe’s experience in brokering denuclearization deals, building confidence between long-standing adversaries, its know-how in setting-up and managing a negotiating process as well as the providing of humanitarian assistance.

“We are ready to put all of this expertise, as well as the tools that we have, at the disposal of the diplomatic processes that are ongoing, and to work jointly towards our shared objective of peace and security on a denuclearized Korean Peninsula,” she said, adding this would be a “major success not only for Koreans, but for the region and the whole world.”

The European Union “continues to insist on the need to have complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization,” or CVID, before the lifting of sanctions on North Korea, she emphasized.

Mogherini held talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels last month, discussing a fully denuclearized North Korea, following the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump on June 12 in Singapore.

She is taking part in the Asean Regional Forum and other related ministerial meetings in Singapore on Friday and Saturday.

Her visit to Seoul includes meetings with South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha and Minister of Unification Cho Myoung-gyon. She is also expected to pay Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon a courtesy call.

Mogherini, a former Italian foreign minister, has served in her current position since November 2014. She was involved in the negotiating of the landmark Iranian nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action of 2015, which has recently been renounced by the United States. The South Korea and the European Union mark the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year. Mogherini also said that the Korea-EU free trade agreement (FTA) needs “modernizing and updating if it is to bring as many benefits as we would like it to.”

She said South Korean steelmakers’ exports to Europe will not be targeted by the EU’s implementation of steel tariffs last month in response to U.S. tariffs.

The following are edited excerpts from the interview.



Q. How do you see the current detente on the Korean Peninsula, as well as the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit on June 12? What is the next step?

A
. We have ourselves, as Europeans, learnt over time that truly peaceful, long-lasting solutions can only be achieved through diplomacy and negotiation. What we have seen on the Korean Peninsula since the turn of the year, and in particular with the two inter-Korean summits - thanks to the work of President Moon - as well as the summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim, is that pursuing this diplomatic track is often challenging, but it is always rewarding.

The European Union has long-pursued a policy of critical engagement with the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea], combining pressure - applying not only UN Security Council sanctions but also stringent additional autonomous EU sanctions - with open channels of communication intended to persuade the DPRK that it will have a brighter future through full adherence to international law, denuclearization and engagement with the international community.

We will continue to follow this path in full coordination with President Moon as well as our other international partners, and do our utmost to support international efforts for peace and reconciliation. I hosted Secretary Pompeo in Brussels only a few weeks ago, where we had the opportunity to discuss the situation on the Peninsula. He, but also Foreign Minister Kang, know that the European Union has long-standing experience in peace-building, reconciliation and specifically in successful negotiations for denuclearization.

Look at the Balkans, in Aceh, ongoing efforts in Afghanistan, Myanmar and the Philippines, and of course the Iran nuclear deal, to name just a few. We are ready to put all of this expertise, as well as the tools that we have, at the disposal of the diplomatic processes that are ongoing, and to work jointly towards our shared objective of peace and security on a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. This would be a major success not only for Koreans, but for the region and the whole world.



Does the EU view “complete denuclearization,” as written in the June 12 North-U.S. joint statement, to be equivalent to “CVID?”

It is rather for the DPRK and the U.S. to determine the semantics of their statement. For the European Union, as well as the rest of the international community, the verification and irreversibility of denuclearization remain essential.



Amid concern about the easing of sanctions on the North, what measures will Pyongyang have to take in order for international sanctions to be eased or lifted?

We have always insisted and continue to insist on the need to have complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization before the lifting of sanctions. If I can give you an example, with Iran we lifted the nuclear-related sanctions not just at the end of the twelve years of negotiations on the agreement, but after the agreement was implemented on the Iranian side. We will also continue to support the inter-Korean dialogue.



The Moon Jae-in administration is seeking denuclearization and the establishment of a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula? Can you give some specifics on the role of the European Union in this process?

The European Union has long experience of different peace and reconciliation processes, both in our immediate neighborhood and elsewhere, for example in Asia. When it comes to denuclearization, the European Union was at the heart of the Iran nuclear deal which continues to prevent a nuclear arms race and potential conflict in that region. The EU stands ready to put at the disposal of the international community our experience from those negotiations and others, for example in building confidence between long-standing adversaries, know-how for setting-up and managing a negotiating process, and humanitarian assistance. As with the Iran deal, where the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified 11 times that Iran continues to adhere to its commitments, verification will also be key to ensuring a successful outcome in efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. There are many things that we as the European Union can offer, in the pursuit of long-lasting peace on the Peninsula, and Korea’s leaders know that this offer is there for when they need it.



The European Union imposed provisional safeguard measures on imports of steel products after the U.S. imposition of tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. How will this affect South Korean steelmakers’ exports to Europe?

It is important for the EU to address the diversion of steel from other countries to the EU market as a result of the recently imposed U.S. tariffs. The measures we put in place on July 19 ensure that the EU market remains open; traditional trade flows will not be affected. The European Union will continue importing without any extra tariffs the same amounts of steel it has done in the past few years; the new duties will only apply to extra imports going beyond that level. It’s a well-balanced approach and, let’s be clear, does not specifically target any of our partners, including Korea.



U.S. President Donald Trump has called the EU a “foe” in a recent interview. How do you construe his remarks, and how does this reflect on the shifting world order?

I have said many times that a change in the administration does not change the friendship between countries and between people. We consider the United States a close friend and partner. I think if you saw the outcome of the recent meeting between the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and President Trump, you would also see that there is still a very close bond, with an understanding of what our partnership means. But the European Union also has many other friends in the world: South Korea most certainly; Canada; Japan; Australia; New Zealand; countries in Latin America; and in Africa. The list is long and does not stop there.



You will be making a trip to Korea this weekend. Can you give a preview of some of your key objectives?

I am very much looking forward to being back in Korea at such an important time. I often have the opportunity to meet with Foreign Minister Kang, as I will do in Singapore this weekend - we also speak regularly on the phone - and have welcomed her to Brussels on a couple of occasions. My visit to Korea will allow me to really get into many important topics with a number of interlocutors, not least the denuclearization of the Peninsula and intra-Korean dialogue, but also looking ahead to our summit, which will be held in Brussels later this year. I also want to address how the EU and Korea can unlock the full potential of our free trade agreement.

The agreement needs modernizing and updating if it is to bring as many benefits as we would like it to. I will also make the point that the Korean government has a key role to play in ensuring that its agencies follow the spirit of the FTA and not just the letter of the law when dealing with European companies in Korea. With Foreign Minister Kang, in particular, I am looking forward to discussing how the EU and Korea can work more closely together in other parts of the world.



The EU and South Korea mark the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year. Can you elaborate on some steps that can be taken to strengthen our “strategic partnership”?

In today’s world, where challenges that go beyond our borders require cooperative responses, relations between the European Union and the Republic of Korea have never been more important.

Over the course of the past 55 years, we have built a relationship that both reflects how close our partnership is, but also enables us to build and maintain strong connections that benefit people in Korea, in Europe, and beyond. Three agreements that we have put in place stand out: a political framework which facilitates more than thirty regular thematic dialogues, enabling us to join forces and have a bigger impact in areas as diverse as mitigating climate change to enhancing cybersecurity; a free trade agreement, successfully implemented for the last seven years, which has increased our trade by more than 40 percent, created new jobs and opportunities for businesses, and makes the EU Korea’s third largest trading partner; and our agreement on crisis management, which facilitates our working together for peace and security across the world, for example in countering piracy off the coast of Somalia.

When you add to this the work we have done to increase the people-to-people dimension of our relationship, which exists through investment - the EU is the largest investor in Korea - as well as the ever-increasing number of tourists, students and artists that travel between our countries, you can see that our relationship has a genuinely positive impact not only in terms of mutual and global security, but on our economies and the livelihoods of citizens in the EU, Korea and elsewhere.

That’s why we are determined to jointly increase our support to multilateralism and the work of the United Nations; better implement our free trade agreement so as to maximize its potential, while at the same time defending rules-based, open and fair trade global order; and strengthen our cooperation on security matters, including when it comes to counter-terrorism, maritime security and hybrid threats. And of course the European Union fully supports President Moon’s and the Korean government’s efforts to secure peace and security on the Korean Peninsula. A truly strategic partnership is one where partners have the solidity to work constantly on challenging agendas but also have the flexibility to adapt to the hot topics of the day. This is what the European Union enjoys with Korea, and I am looking forward to seeing how we can develop this still further.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]