Our hope for the two Koreas in a confederation

A fast-moving initiative for peace and hopefully, the beginnings of rapprochement, is underway in the Korean Peninsula between the two separated Koreas, North and South.

We hope it is to be followed by a larger three-way Summit with the U.S., most likely in April or May between the two Korean leaders, potential Nobel Peace Prize winners, President Moon Jae-In of the South and Kim Jong-Un of the North, with President Donald Trump.

The objective is to establish the main agenda and hopefully achieve the difficult but long-desired result — the beginnings of peace on both sides of the Demilitarized Zone, along the 38th Parallel which partitions Korea at the waist — for the peoples of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) of the North, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) in the South.

Over the years, since we first travelled to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital in 1990, as a younger congressman, as then Acting Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the House of Representatives, our visit and talks with North Korea’s founding President Kim Il-Sung immediately resulted in a return visit to Manila by then North Korean Vice Premier Kim Dahl Hyun, and the rapid establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and North Korea (DPRK), with the active support of the late President Corazon Aquino and the late Foreign Secretary Raul Manglapus.

In the last two years, as Chairman of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP), now with some 350 ruling, opposition and independent parties as members, we had since moved from Manila to Seoul the headquarters of ICAPP, which we founded in Manila in 2000, in the hope that we could help bridge the gap between the two Koreas by helping promote the feasibility of establishing the Korean Confederation for the Two Koreas, ideally working with the North’s sole political organization, the Korean Workers Party.

We envisioned that South and North would keep their independent countries separate but in peace and join in a loose Confederation, normally trading and doing business, engage in cross-trade and tourism, developing their agriculture, industries, fisheries, highways, airways and railways system, and connect from Pusan in the deep south, (gateway to Japan), all the way to the North, in a Trans-Siberia Railway leading to Russia and to Europe.

This is of course possible and probable if there is common will, with the support of the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, with ASEAN, the European Union, and U.N. providing guidance and active support.

It is not fair to ask North Korea now to give up its nuclear weapons because it will not, but the relations between the Two Koreas can and should develop normally, if they start preparing for it now.

In previous speeches in the region and in previous news columns we had pointed out:

“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, the 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, eventually 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 channelled to economic mobilization.”

“And the Six-Nation Talks (long-suspended) could have a business-focused auxiliary to develop economic joint-ventures for deployment in the Korean north.

We also noted that in a speech at the former East German city of Dresden in 2014, the former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, now unfortunately in prison, said: “Just as the German people secured freedom, prosperity and peace by tearing down the Berlin Wall, we too must tear down barriers in our march towards a new future on the Korean Peninsula.”

At the time we also said: “We agree that for our peoples, the age of ideological conflict is over. All our countries now need to move beyond containment and confrontation toward cooperation and collective prosperity. Indeed, there is no other option.”

We had much earlier pointed these out to our two close friends in Seoul: our ICAPP Co-Chairman and former Secretary-General Chung Eui-yong and current ICAPP Secretary-General Park Robyug, former South Korean Ambassador to Russia. Of course our capable Co-Chairman Chung is now on leave from ICAPP, has been appointed South Korea’s National Security Adviser, who a few weeks ago flew to Pyongyang, successfully conferred with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and went on non-stop to brief President Trump in Washington, Chinese President XI Jinping in Beijing, and Japanese National Security Adviser Shotaro Yachi.

Now to secure the deal with North Korea (DPRK): the key is to forge initially a respectable Confederation between North and South, no harm to the South, which is far bigger, already industrialized and wealthy, and for the North, to begin to build its economy, industries, agriculture and trade, and a common North-South railway extending all the way to Pusan in the south, to Russia and onwards to Europe.

In earlier days, atomic powers like Kazakhstan, which is almost as large as Western Europe, also voluntarily demilitarized and gave up its nuclear weapons and today leads in Eurasia.

Indeed North Korea could leverage and give-up its nuclear weapons in exchange for large-scale cash and economic assistance and rapidly build up its economy and be equal in status as sovereigns with South Korea.

In a Confederation, North and South would be co-equal sovereign nations, with some centralizing connectivity, and in the fullness of time, could decide to unite as one nation-state like the two Germanies and the two Vietnams.

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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