“The Role of Republic of Korea in Sustainable Development”
Seoul, Republic of Korea
October 8, 2015
It is a great pleasure to join you at this forum on the Role of the Republic of Korea in sustainable
development. Let me thank the Global Peace Foundation, the Asia-Pacific Peace and Development Service Alliance, UN Habitat, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and all the other organizations that have brought us together.
There is a saying in Korea that “even the landscape changes in a decade.” It means no nation and no region is static or can afford to be static and still attain development.
Asia and Pacific region is changing rapidly.
It has changed significantly in the last ten years.
I am glad the Republic of Korea is at the center of this regions’ transformation. In many ways, Korea is driving the change.
Today, I would like to reflect on the evolution of and developments in the region and share my thoughts on a future that I believe is desirable and possible for the region.
The bond between Korea and my country Kenya dates back many years.
Back home Kenya, we keep looking up to Korea as a reminder of what our nations can achieve by pursuing political, economic and social policies that are inclusive, diversified and pragmatic.
In the 1960s, Korea was among the poorest countries of the world. Today, it is one of the richest—the worlds’ thirteenth most prosperous economy.
Your investment in meritocracy, democracy, education, invention and innovation has paid dividends and continues to provide useful lessons for the rest of the developing world. Korea has shown the world that economic growth can also be equitable and inclusive.
For Korea, Kenya and Africa could be reliable partners in global diplomacy and economic development. For Kenya and Africa, Korea can be, and indeed is, a trustworthy and diligent partner that provides the economic support, the skills and the manpower needed for modernization and growth. Above all, Korea remains an inspiration and a motivation that indeed, with the right policies, nations can rise.
Here within the Asia-Pacific, your relationships, like in other parts of the world, has gone through a cycle of ups and downs depending on the times. You have lived through cycles of war and peace. This region does not need another war. It should consolidate the peace and extend the benefits of growth and stability to the rest of the globe.
It is time for the Republic of Korea to rearrange its relationship with the region and the world to reflect the progress it has made over the years.
The Republic of Korea could deploy its growing economic and political muscle to develop a comprehensive partnership that creates a new horizon in the region. We are keen to see a new partnership in the region that is less vulnerable to the changes of the times and errors of the past.
Korea needs to champion a relationship that contributes to the common prosperity of the region and the world. More specifically, the Republic of Korea needs to embark on building alliances and partnerships with the regional and global community that should end in the reunification of the two Koreas. Ideally, this should never have been difficult. The North and the South share a common history and language. They have families across the divide.
They have much to gain from increased dialogue and economic cooperation. Greater cooperation and stability will promote more investment in the South and uplift the North. But we know the reality, informed by politics, is different.
We need to begin with the basics which are also the fundamentals; probably the only things that matter. The key to long-term political relationship on the global arena is mutual trust. We need to complement economic relations with pursuit of mutually beneficial political relations while exploiting reunifying cultural relations.
Opening economic cooperation with the immediate neighbor to the North, under clearly defined and mutually beneficial rules, will foster a more future-oriented and multi-faceted partnership in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
There is a Korean proverb that says “even a sheet of paper is held more easily by two people.” Peace and stability in this region is inseparable from the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the world. Like a sheet of paper, this region needs to be held together by two people; the two Koreas.
By championing reunification of the Koreas and building a global coalition in this direction, Korea will be making active contributions to the international peace and stability.
Unity of the Koreas will give them a stronger voice and presence at the UN Security Council and enable them make positive and effective contributions in the process of resolving crisis like that in Syria. It will be in tune with Korea’s long cherished commitment to multilateralism and global responsibility for the common good of all.
I recognize that the Republic of Korea has been keen on dialogue with the North. The UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki Moon has expressed readiness to support meaningful engagement between the Koreas. The two nations must rise to the occasion. Let the two countries reduce the number of preconditions and engage in sincere dialogue.
Personally, I stand ready to visit Pyongyang if it can help bridge the divide and help with confidence-building measures.