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Remarks by President Park Geun-hye at the 2013 International Conference on Global Cooperation in the Era of Eurasia

Source : Cheong Wa Dae

Remarks by President Park Geun-hye at the 2013 International Conference on Global Cooperation in the Era of Eurasia

Distinguished guests from home and abroad,

I wholeheartedly welcome all of you to this international conference being held to discuss the vision of cooperation in the era of Eurasia. I hope it will serve as an invaluable milestone on the path to a new era of peace and prosperity in Eurasia.

Distinguished guests,

Home to approximately 71 percent of the global population, Eurasia is the largest single continent, spanning 12 different time zones from its easternmost point to the westernmost tip. It is the cradle of ancient civilizations in the long history of the world, and the Silk Road spearheaded the progress of those civilizations through exchanges and cooperation.

Through such cultural exchanges and fusion as the introduction of Eastern papermaking and pottery techniques to the West and the Western calendar to the East, Eurasia was in the past able to upgrade itself as a place for communication and openness as well as creation and convergence. The Korean Peninsula was the far eastern starting point on the path across the Eurasian continent.

Unfortunately, the Cold War between the East and the West cast a long shadow over modern history and hampered Eurasia from taking advantage of its geographical traits of connectivity and dynamism as a single continent. As a result, it had to sustain a period of isolation and disconnect.

Since the end of the Cold War, however, the Eurasian continent has been in the process of transformation. Russia and Central Asian countries have torn down the barriers with West Europe and embarked on active exchanges. The construction of transnational transport infrastructure is making it possible to save shipping costs and efficiently utilize energy, mineral resources and agricultural produce. If trade barriers were gradually dismantled and regional economic integration were accelerated by turning Eurasia into a free trade zone, it would be possible for the Eurasian continent to emerge as a massive single market just like the European Union.

The creation of such a new Eurasia is not simply an ideal and a dream but a viable goal to achieve. The new Eurasia that is emerging will provide opportunities for new investment and jobs and will offer new possibilities for future generations.

The division, however, of the Korean Peninsula, which is the easternmost pillar of the Eurasian economic sphere and a gateway connecting Eurasia to the Pacific, is causing bottlenecks on the path of exchanges and cooperation. Some inland countries locked away from the oceans are suffering difficulties in attracting foreign trade and investment, while other areas dependent on the European economy are in the face of enormous challenges stemming from the crisis in the eurozone.

I believe now is the time to open a new channel to enhance communication in Eurasia and bring out its potential for cooperation.

Getting past the disconnect and isolation as well as tension and conflict, we need to build a new Eurasia where all of us can carry out peaceful exchanges and achieve prosperity through mutual understanding and door-opening efforts. To this end, I want to propose a Eurasian Initiative, a set of directions for making Eurasia into a single united continent, a continent of creativity and a continent of peace.

First, we should unleash a new era by reconnecting Eurasia to make the continent truly one. It is necessary to reconnect the logistics network that has been cut off in Eurasia and overcome physical barriers obstructing exchanges. To this end, we have to build the Silk Road Express, which will run from Busan all the way to Europe via North Korea, Russia, China and Central Asia, by connecting the northeastern part of Eurasia with railways and roads to establish a multi-purpose logistics network, which would eventually be extended to Europe.

We also need to redouble our efforts to seek ways to link the eastern end of Eurasia with the sea through connection with the Northern Sea Route, which is newly emerging as a shipping lane.

It would also be of great significance to build a Eurasian energy network. In this region, energy consumer countries coexist with producing nations. Given this regional characteristic, it is necessary for countries in the region to connect energy infrastructures, including electric power networks and gas and oil pipelines, and push ahead with Eurasian energy cooperation in a win-win manner by jointly developing shale gas in China and oil and gas in East Siberia.

Bolstering logistics and energy networks in the region will not only help curtail logistics costs but also invigorate global trade. It will help stabilize overall prices of raw materials in the global market, thereby contributing to global economic growth.

On top of this, the establishment of Eurasian transportation and energy infrastructures will help remove stumbling blocks and thus serve as a catalyst in creating a Eurasian economic bloc involving landlocked nations in Eurasia, Korea, China and Japan.

Overcoming institutional barriers standing in the way of trade and investment is as important as getting rid of physical obstacles. With the EU in the west, ASEAN in the south and NAFTA across the Pacific, Eurasia has already been equipped with a foundation to create a single market geographically. We have to accelerate the negotiations for trade liberalization such as ongoing talks for the conclusion of the Korea-China-Japan FTA. If we connect these negotiations with trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), which involve countries inside and outside of Eurasia, it would be possible to create a huge single market.

If we combine the comparative advantages of Korea and other Eurasian countries on the basis of logistics, trade and energy infrastructures, I am confident that we would be able to bring an era of shared prosperity in Eurasia closer to reality.

Second, we have to make Eurasia a continent of creativity. We need to create an environment where creativity of the people in Eurasia can be fully demonstrated and industries, technology and culture can be fused. Building on such a foundation, we need to usher in a new era when a new economic paradigm can emerge and new cultures flourish in a harmonious manner. Some leading Eurasian nations have already come to recognize the creativity of people as the core to creating new growth engines and are making efforts to innovate their economies based on such an understanding.

Korea is now pushing ahead with a creative economy based on the creativity of economic players, a new economic development paradigm where science and technology are grafted onto ICT and their convergence and fusion are facilitated, which can finally lead to the creation of new markets and job opportunities.

Russia's plan to realize an innovative economy and China's policy to develop new technologies on its own initiative are in line with Korea's plan to realize a creative economy in that all these regard the creativity of people, science and technology and IT as a core foundation. If individual nation's efforts to promote a creative economy were joined together, it would create enormous synergy and help the Eurasian region emerge as a growth engine of the world economy. As an example, energy and logistics networks, the kernel of Eurasian collaboration, could create higher added value when combined with a smart grid or state-of-the-art ICT such as satellite-based global positioning system for shipping containers. I look forward to seeing the governments and business leaders within each country share ideas with one another and explore new business opportunities on the basis of their common vision for a creative economy.

Cultural and people-to-people exchanges must also be expanded. An exchange network linking the young people of Eurasia needs to be put into place so that our future leaders are able to experience each other's languages and cultures, talk about their visions for the future and put their heads together to find solutions to important regional issues such as poverty and environmental degradation.

From art and fashion to language and food, we must trace our different cultures back to their roots and discover the various elements that make up our identities as peoples of Eurasia. With culture as our means, we must open our hearts and grow in understanding of one another. Whether through events showcasing the latest in popular culture, including film festivals and music festivals, or through fashion shows and sports events, it will also be important for us to work toward creating new cultural resources.

Third, we must establish Eurasia as a continent of peace. Threats to peace and security are our biggest obstacles to trade and cultural exchanges, and they must first be resolved before a new era in our history can begin. In recent times, we have found ourselves confronting various new challenges in security—nuclear safety, natural disasters and climate change, for example—in addition to more traditional security threats.

One challenge in particular is the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula, Eurasia's gateway to the Pacific Ocean. Peace here is indispensable to peace not only on the greater Eurasian continent but also around the world. Whether logistics, energy or people-to-people exchanges, the majority of tasks on the agenda for cooperation will be difficult to realize without stabilized inter-Korean relations and without openness and reform in the North. It is with this understanding that the Korean Government is pursuing the trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula and the Northeast Asian Peace and Cooperation Initiative.

The trust-building process aims to establish a framework for advancing inter-Korean relations and realizing peaceful unification that stands on the foundation of trust to be built up between the South and North. In addition to the goals of peace and stability on the Peninsula, and in accordance with progress in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, the Korean Government will also execute the trust-building process as a means to promote cooperation in the Russian Far East and in China's three northeastern provinces as well as trilateral cooperation encompassing the South and North and third parties like China and Russia.

The Northeast Asian Peace and Cooperation Initiative envisions the countries of the Northeast Asian region engaging in dialogue and cooperation on climate change, natural disasters, nuclear security, cyberspace security and other areas where this is currently possible and then gradually expanding this scope. Both this initiative and the trust-building process are rooted in the premise that trust is the necessary precondition for cooperation. In the process of their execution, full compliance with relevant agreements and conformity to international norms will be key guiding principles.

I hope all the peoples and governments of Eurasia will reach one accord on the importance of peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the Northeast Asian region, and I look forward to their active support for the trust-building process and the Northeast Asian Peace and Cooperation Initiative.

Distinguished guests,

Long ago, our ancestors braved rugged mountain terrain and desert sandstorms to engage with one another in various exchanges, and their routes of passage became channels of light and progress for human civilization. We who dwell on the Eurasian continent today must take our turn and set out with vigor to meet our own challenges in order that we too may open a new era of peace and prosperity across this land.

I hope this conference will be the spirited beginning of this challenge. As we share what wisdom we each have, let us together create “one Eurasia.”

Thank you very much.

Government Press Release published on October 18, 2013

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