In pursuit of lasting peace (Part 2)

(Part 2 of 3)
(Remarks of Hon. Jose De Venecia, Former Speaker, Philippine House of Representatives; Founding Chairman, International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP); Co-Chairman, International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP); Chairman Emeritus, Universal Peace Federation (UPF);
Special Envoy of the President to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and for Intercultural Dialogue at the UPF International Leadership Conference 2018 “Building a World of Lasting Peace: Interdependence, Mutual Prosperity and Universal Values” Seoul, Republic of Korea; February 18-22, 2018.)
Revival of Six-Party talks and Korean unification
We believe that the lingering conflict and potentially dangerous flashpoint in the Korean Peninsula with North Korea, now nuclear-armed and continuously testing improved nuclear weaponry, and perhaps even the potential of missiles launched from submarines, could be resolved peacefully through diplomacy, cooperation and bilateral and/or multilateral dialogue. No matter how most difficult, it must be constantly tried and pursued, and we claim its eventual success, for the sake of the two Koreas, Asia, and the world.
We urge the revival of the long-postponed Six-Party talks among the U.S., Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea and even better sustained direct talks between North and South that would directly contribute to enhancing political stability and security not only in the Korean Peninsula but in the Asia Pacific region, but most importantly lead to unite the two Koreas, forswear war, and together build a strong, united prosperous first-world nation for the Korean peoples in the second or third decade of the 21st Century.
Perhaps, the successful dynamics of North Korea’s nuclear development could be channeled to economic mobilization.
And the Six-Nation Talks could have a business-focused auxiliary to develop economic joint ventures for deployment in the Korean north.
Two Koreas should adapt to global changes
Excellencies, friends: We must point out that despite the occasional harsh rhetoric on both sides of the 38th Parallel, I believe governments, parliaments, political parties, civil society organizations, and religious groups must encourage and support direct talks between Seoul and Pyongyang.
As we know in past years, direct talks re-started some years ago between Washington and Pyongyang—in New York and Geneva, but had not met with success.
Indeed, direct talks between North and South will complement these high-level explorations. Perhaps they could even catalyze the long-suspended Six-Party Talks to prevent nuclear proliferation in the Korean Peninsula. Perhaps direct bilateral or multilateral talks could even lead to agreement on a road map to eventual unification. But these talks have not been reopened for a long time now.
Today the basic fact is that the distribution of power in the world is fast-changing–particularly in East Asia–and the Korean Peninsula must adapt to these epochal transformations.
Vietnam itself emerged from three difficult successive wars, winning against great powers, and its socialist government adopting a market economy, lifted its people from poverty to become today a rising peaceful economic power. North Korea can be like Vietnam, which is already emerging as a power in Southeast Asia.
The great example of course is how the two Germanys finally emerged from Cold War confrontation and totally united under then Chancellor Helmut Kohl, to become today the predominant economic power in Europe.
And China, under the unforgettable leader Deng Xiaoping, opened China to the world, lifted more than 500 million people from poverty and introduced appreciable elements of free enterprise capitalism to China’s socialist economy, which has propelled China to the second largest in the global economy and perhaps No. 1 within 10 years.
ASEAN Plus 4
Perhaps the two Koreas should begin with some degree of economic cooperation. And the obvious way which of course should not take too much time for Pyongyang to be invited to associate itself with the East Asian Economic Grouping of the 10 Southeast Asian states and the 3 Northeast Asian states – China, Japan and South Korea. The ASEAN Plus 3 could become ASEAN Plus 4. This should not be a long process and the idea should be shared with Pyongyang sooner than later.
Yes, indeed, North Korea should not be left alone and isolated as we push for political and economic integration in Asia.
In my view, the immediate task of the parliaments and mainstream political parties of the Republic of Korea and the Communist Korean Workers’ Party (KWP) of the North, aided by the parliaments, political parties, civil society, and business leaders of the global community, is to draw up a clear, distinct and workable road map toward unification.
Political parties and civil society organizations should network with the leading think-tanks of Asia, U.S., and Europe to envision the architecture of Korean confederation and unification, actively revive Seoul’s Kim Dae Jung “Sunshine Policy”, promote a bipartisan approach among the major parties of the South, and draw on South Korea’s vaunted economic power, to help build the economy of the North under an economic and political Confederation of Korean Unity.
The Asian, European, African, Latin American, Australian, and U.S. parliaments could organize a program and send delegations to the North Korea legislature, their Ministers of Agriculture and Tourism might interact with their North Korean counterparts to look into the recurring causes of famine in the North and to develop jobs-creating and foreign exchange-earning tourism there.
The great Chinese, Russian, and Western industries can look into North Korea’s hydrocarbons, mining, and hydro-electric potential.
The late Reverend Moon and Madame Moon over the years have built genuine goodwill in Pyongyang and among the Koreans in the North and donated their much-appreciated hotel and erstwhile automobile factory that they established there to the North Korean government and people.
(To be continued next week)

Hon. Former Speaker of the House Jose de Venecia Jr.

Hon. Jose de Venecia, Jr. served as Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines from 1992 to 1998 and from 2001 to 2008, and is Founding Chairman, International Conference of Asian Political Parties. During his distinguished career, Hon. De Venecia was instrumental in successfully securing a peace agreement with the secessionist Moro National Liberation Front in southern Philippines and in forging a ceasefire and a peace pact with the rebellious Armed Forces group, RAM-YOU. He also revived the imperiled and long-stalled peace process with the communist National Democratic Front-New People’s Army, and progressed peace talks with the residual fundamentalist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mindanao. Hon. DeVenecia is a member of GPF’s Global Leadership Council.

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