한-러 수교 25주년, 광복 70주년 기념 국제학술회의
- 한러 양국간 상호인식 및 협력 증진방안 -
25 Years of Diplomatic Relations: Review & Prospect
(Int’l Seminar in celebration of 25th Anniversary of the
Diplomatic Relations between Korea & Russia)
July 27, 2015, Korean Embassy in Moscow
Lee Kyu Hyung(Advisor/SERI, Former Amb. to Russia)
“ I dreamed of a railway train to run from Busan, South Korea to Europe crossing Russia”
These were mentioned by President Park Keun Hae when she had a separate Summit meeting with President Putin during the G20 Summit held in St. Petersburg in September, 2013. Although her hope of connecting Trans Korean Railway to Trans Siberia Railway has yet been realized, it is so meaningful today that both Korean experts and professors who spent fortnight on board TSR crossing such a vast land of Eurasian continent and the eminent Russian counterparts hold a Seminar to renew our efforts for upgrading Korea-Russian(KoRus) relations which has been continuously strengthened.
Honorable Rector of MGIMO, Mr. Torkunov, Distinguished Mr. Suh, Sang Gook, President of the Korea Association of Slavic Eurasian Studies, Distinguished Ambassador Panov, Senior Vice President of the Russia-Korea Society, Honorable Mr. Cho, Tae Yong, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs who just left for meeting with his Russian counterpart, Professors and Experts in both countries and in particular, the Hon. Mr. Lee Joo hyung, member of the National Assembly who arrived Moscow yesterday from Havarovsk on board TSR,
It is my privilege to deliver a keynote speech on our bilateral relations at this preciaous moment to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of KoRus diplomatic relations and the 70th Anniversary of National Liberation.
I've worked here as Ambassador from April 2007 to Feb 2010. Afterwards, I renewed my relations with Russia by assuming a duty of President of Korea-Russia Dialogue(KRD) since Novem- ber 2013 when President Putin paid a brisk visit to Seoul, and attending the 3rd Korea-Russia Forum which KRD organised. My 3 years' stay in Moscow was remarkable enough to become one of the most rewarding moments out of my almost 40 year-long public life. During those days, I had a very unique and valued experience. The more I‘ve got to know Russians and the more time I spent with them, the more I could feel that I have made good friends with them, who usually shows not so friendly impression but very tough image when first met by others.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
It started at mid-17th century when the Korean peninsula had contact with Russia. In 1654 and 1658, Chosun Kingdom was asked by Qing Dynasty respectively to send a rifle squadron, who later got contact with Russian alongside Heirong river in north China. It was the first time in history for Korean to meet with Russian. Since then, however, no substantive engagement was made until the Friendship and Trade Treaty between Chosun and Russia was signed in 1884. Nevertheless, during about 10 years from 1896 when Ah Guan Pa Chun case - the Chosun royal family refugee to the Russian Embassy in Seoul, occurred, which consists of one major chapter in the late Chosun history, to 1905 when Russo-Japanese war erupted, it is well known that Russia was one of the key players affecting the situation surrounding the Korean peninsula.
After the 2nd World War, Korea and Russia could be regarded as most victimized nations by ideological conflict and confron- tation. However, as the 1988 Seoul Olympics helped bring thawing mood between the West and the East which eventually led to the end of Cold War, Korea and Russia normalized diplomatic relations in 1990 marking an end to the 80 year-long diplomatic shutdown.
Early May in 1988, still not clear whether Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries would participate in the Seoul Olympics, I, working as First Secretary of the Korean Embassy in Tokyo, received a phone call from a diplomat of the Soviet Union Embassy in Tokyo, which was very unusual because Soviet diplomats were under official instruction not to contact South Korean diplomats individually. To my surprise, however, he said that he wanted to meet me alone that evening. When I met him at a coffee shop in Akasaka, Tokyo, he said first that I could write down what he would tell me, and continued to say that he was instructed to inform officially, through me, the Korean Government of Soviet Union’s decision to participate in the Seoul Olympic Games. Looking back those 40 years of my diplomatic service, I have never experienced such excitement, a thrilling moment ever.
Now 25 years has passed since normalization of relations between Korea and Russia. 900 millions US dollar amount of trade in 1990 increased to 25 billions last year, although inevitably this year affected negatively. The Visa abolishment agreement in January last year enabled both countries to expand peoples’ mutual visit to the level of 300 thousand. Korean companies like Lotte, Samsung, Hyundai Kia automobile has continued to expand investment in Russia noticeably.
Of course, there were several unfortunate engagement such as mutual expulsion of diplomats in mid-90s as well as a failed joint venture project of Kamchatka continental shelf oil exploration in 2008. But as is seen in the success of the first Korean astronaut project and the 2013 launch of Naro communication satellite, a long term contract of purchasing 1.5 million tons of LNG from Sakhalin annually, fishery cooperation near Kamchatka, Russian military defense equipment purchase and establishment of KRD, we have been indulged in strength- ening practically cooperative bilateral relations.
I have sincere expectation that the incumbent Putin government emphasizing Look East Policy and the Park's government declaring expansion of cooperation with Eurasia as priority national agenda can take some measures, based upon mutual trust, for upgrading our relations. It is also expected that such upgraded ties enables private companies to produce more substantive cooperation. And moreover, we hope that trilateral projects among Russia and both two Koreas in the area of Train connection, Electricity supply and Gas cooperation could be materialized.
Russia, needless to say again, plays a very important role in keeping peace & stability in the Korean Peninsula. In particular, he has done his part solidly as member of the 6 Party Talks for solving North Korea's nuclear problem peacefully. We know well that Russia has been instrumental in adopting resolutions in the UN Security Council condemning North Korea's nuclear tests and its violations of international law.
Basically, Korea and Russia have cooperated well in international arena such as G20, APEC, ASEM, EAS and etc, and shared common understanding in many global issues, of which, however, position is not always same. I am of the view that we should accept differences in some international issue. But it is noted with pleasure that we have handled those differences with care and wisdom not to cause any big hindrance to development of bilateral relations. And I like to expect that we can continue to do so in the future.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Preparing this keynote speech, I was seriously pondering what would be most effective thing for obtaining bigger fruit of cooperation and exchanges in our relations, while recalling the last 25 year's accomplishment we have made as well as my personal experiences earned through my 3 year ambassadorship in Moscow. For this too, I was wondering what kind of efforts to be more efficient and what measures to be taken first. I came to conclude followings as necessary given unique political, economic and cultural backgrounds of each other.
First, a vital interest and leadership of highest political figures and staunch support in the form of policy are essential. Based on this, we should exert our efforts to widen and deepen ways of dialogue and communication. These efforts are prerequisite to develop the strategic cooperative partnership more substantially and substantively. Considering our identical politico- cultural characteristics, I firmly believe it imperative to maintain frequent contact and meeting between the two top leaders wherever it would be.
In addition, more candid and constructive dialogue in the area of foreign and security affairs is absolutely desired. It seems understandable for Russia to view Korean affairs with a viewpoint of its global strategic concerns. But the matter of peace, stability, unification and prosperity of 70 million Koreans, to itself as a whole, have its own merit, raison d'etre to be fully addressed and recognized. I therefore earnestly wish that Russia should render, at bilateral context, better understanding and support toward efforts and patience exercised by Korea who works hard for lessening tension and promoting reconciliation on the Korean peninsula.
In fact, whatsoever positive outcome is pursued needs efforts by parties concerned to upgrade level of mutual trust. For this reason, I like to expect more contact and dialogue both at central and provincial government level. It is so desired that we can accumulate real experience of cooperation through conducting exemplary project and exchange expansion program.
In this connection, I am encouraged to note that the Russian government shows unified efforts to develop Far East and Zabaikal area with its announcement of a mid-long term plan. I also note with appreciation that our two governments have valued high a possible cooperation in the Far East and Siberia, which has been well witnessed in regular convening of the Korea Russia Joint Economic Commission. It is right direction for both government to put deputy minister to assume chairmanship of subcommittee for Far East and Siberia. I expect the Joint Economic Commission to have more practical and specific results of discussion.
Second, I believe it all the more important to build mutually beneficial(win-win) structure for securing success of economic cooperation. Investment needs mid-long term economic assess- ment rather than short term profit, so that it is essential to provide good environment for investment and for anticipating mid-long term profit. There are ample opportunity for cultiva- ting, expanding, accelerating cooperation of mutual benefit in the fields of agriculture, fisheries, maritime transportation, energy, science technology, military tech, space science, and arctic ocean development. I believe the last item referred as arctic development to provide us with a new big potential for cooperation. We are thankful for the Russian support to our bid for observer status in the Arctic Commission in May, 2013. The arctic will draw a new frontline for KoRus cooperation in the future.
I also believe that dialogue and communication is precondition of vivid economic exchange in business sector too. We cannot deny existence of difference in social custom and system between Korea and Russia who spends less 3 decades since experiencing economic transformation. There would be a case, not because of wrong or bad attempt, but only due to misunderstanding and distrust arisen by difference in custom and system. This answers the reason why we should expand ways of communication and build more mutual trust all over the areas including politico economic and cultural ones.
Third, no matter how many resources listed in Mendeleyev Periodic Table we might have, we need to apply principle of selection and concentration for doing business more efficiently and effectively. In this light, it is always important to find and choose right partner who can avail itself with financial resources, technology prominence and various experience. And the better is such country who shares dreams, visions and aspirations which Russia holds, for developing Far East and Siberia to become a Mecca of peace and prosperity.
Distinguished Professors and Experts of both two countries,
In order for our two countries to undertake major roles for maintaining peace, development and prosperity in Eurasia, while continuing the mutually beneficial development, I like to suggest at what direction we have to stride as my conclusion today.
We don’t have to reiterate that, under the spirit of mutual respect and mutually beneficial growth, the right understanding and recognition toward each other accompanied by various dialogue and communication serves the basis for a most desirable development of bilateral relations.
Bearing this in mind, it requires for Korea to understand clearly what Russia seeks to accomplish in global context and to recognize where it stands now in the international society. Korea should be also aware of the will, capacity, strength and limits of the present Putin government who declares to reestablish a strong Russia. The long profound traditions, indomitable history and outstanding legacy of culture and arts together with its leadership governing such vast land of Eurasia and its national pride and dignity are cores of its characteristics with which Russia represent itself in the earth. These facts I believe Korea havs to keep in mind all the time.
By the same token, it needs clear recognition and understan- ding on the part of Russia regarding an unique environment which Korea has faced with.
First, it has passed 70 years since the peninsula was divided. Between the North and the South, antagonism and confronta- tion has continued so far, though there were ups and downs in their relations. Therefore Russia is sincerely requested to understand peculiar position of South Korea, who, keeping its national defense unchallenged, should ease tension on the peninsula and pursue reconciliation and common prosperity of the Korean people through dialogue, so as to accomplish its task of peaceful reunification.
Second, Koreans are long in pursuit of universal values of humankind such as democracy, human rights and freedom of press. Its ardent endeavors and devotion has realized its aspiration of democratization and economic modernization. In this context, Korea, in general, joins the Western world in preserving and developing the present order of international politics and economy, and I believe, Korea has good reason to do so.
Third, however, Korea once called a poorest, a developing country in 1950s and 60s has grown to a leading middle power with its 13th or 14th high in economic strength worldwide. Against this backdrop, Korea, instinctively, shares appropriate expectation and demand of the emerging powers to bring change in the established international order.
Uvazaemuiy Damyi I Gaspada,
Tuchev, a Russian poet diplomat, wrote a poem implying that it is not by head but by heart when to understand Russia. Russia whose national tree is birch tree in white bark is a very important country to Korea. The same is true in Korea vis a vis Russia. In particular, it must enjoy credit in terms of partnership for developing the Russian Far East and Siberia.
The agreed minutes between President Putin and President Park during their respective summit meetings once at St. Petersburg and another at Seoul in 2013 which stipulates "Promise what can be kept and, Keep what was promised" is providing us, present here this morning, with depth of significance.
I am very pleased to have such opportunity for listening to specific presentation and plausible comments by leading scholars of our two countries at this meaningful Seminar in celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Korea and Russia. I do hope, together with all of participants today, that our firm bilateral ties of mutually comprehensive understanding and benefit should continue to be strengthened in its years to come. I am very hopeful and convinced indeed that today's efforts by all of us will make due contribution to that end. Spassiva balshoe.
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