It seems fair to say that the world has an oversupply of problems but in short supply of solutions. Under the circumstances, it came as no surprise when the UN secretary-general portrayed the current global state of affairs as a “trust deficit disorder.” But it is no time to despair. Every cloud has a silver lining. Recent developments on the Korean peninsula provide a glimpse of hope.
Key to recent remarkable achievements on the Korean peninsula are the Korean government’s tireless efforts to build trust. Trust building and winning hearts are defining factors of the Korean government’s peace initiative and its new diplomatic initiative – namely, the New Southern Policy. The policy is about collaborating to strengthen peace and shared prosperity in the region in a way that benefits the people. I laid out why our policies will have a far-reaching impacts around the region and beyond at the recent National Day reception that was help, for the first time, in Naypyitaw on Thursday.
The leaders of South Korea and North Korea sealed another significant deal, the Pyongyang Joint Declaration, at their 3rd summit meeting during on Sept. 18-20. What makes this summit particularly remarkable is that, by agreeing on a set of confidence-building measures in the military domain, it effectively makes our dream of creating a Korean peninsula free of any fear of war come true. A new chapter in our efforts to forge a permanent and sustainable peace has begun. As the world applauded, the most important driving force was the relentless effort of President Moon Jae-in to build trust at the highest level. Tectonic shifts on the Korean peninsula can also inspire Myanmar as it galvanizes collective strength to move its peace process forward.
It is not just peace that strikes a cord between our two countries. As demonstrated in Hanoi during the World Economic Forum on ASEAN, Korea and Myanmar work hard to shape the future path in the age of the 4th industrial revolution. Korea’s New Southern Policy provides a timely platform, in this regard, to create a win-win partnership. Particularly, Myanmar’s mid- and longer-term economic strategy, the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan, is well placed to yield mutually beneficial effects.
As Korea aims to expand its trade volume with ASEAN to $200 billion and the volume of mutual visitors to 15 million by 2020, next year will be another important turning point in our journey. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Republic of Korea-ASEAN dialogue partnership, our government will host a special summit in 2019. It will in turn provide an important momentum in trust building in the relationship between Korea and Myanmar.
Lee Sang-hwa is the Republic of Korea’s ambassador to Myanmar.