PRESS RELEASE -NIRJ DEVA
Posted on March 16th, 2018

NIRJ DEVA DL FRSA MEP Conservative MEP for the South East of England Chairman of the Delegation to the Korean Peninsula Vice Chairman of International Development Committee ECR Group Coordinator

14/03/2018 – Strasbourg:

Ladies and Gentlemen, we thank you for coming to what I think is a historic press conference.

I begin by saluting President´s Trump´s acceptance of Korean Leader Kim Jung Un’s invitation to talk; an unprecedented display of diplomacy given that in more than 64 years, there has not been, so much as a phone call, between the leaders of the two nations.

I believe that this, is a moment, of rare courage and foresight that we in the EU, must embrace and support, regardless of the risks. This moment of rare courage was catalysed by the determination and bravery of President Moon of South Korea who relentlessly sought peace and not war on the Peninsula in spite of the sabre rattling from the White House and Pyongyang. The UN sanctions regime as rigidly applied and enhanced by the EU also played a part in driving the protagonist to talk.

I have spent the past three years as Chairman of the EP Delegation for Relations with the Korean Peninsula with my colleagues equally relentlessly advocating the case for dialogue without preconditions.

Preconditions which I knew would abort any successful talks even before they started.

A dialogue which I hope would lead from the current armistice to a lasting peace treaty and an eventual verifiable denuclearised Korean Peninsula. I did much of our advocacy in secrecy with my Colleagues.  It is only now that I am revealing our efforts to a wider audience in the light of the proposed talks.

We put this case forward in over 50 meetings with senior figures in the governments of the Six-Party States; accepting invitations to the Blue House in The Republic of Korea, the White House and State Department in the U.S, bi-laterals meetings in Beijing with Chinese Ministers, and to Japan.

We met in secret with senior North Koreans on 14 occasions. We understood their concerns and they understood ours.

To me, the case is simple. What we are witnessing on the Peninsula is a remnant of the Cold War in which a clash between the opposing ideologies of Communism and Capitalism continue to this day. This is Cold War Mark II.

History teaches us that breaking any deadlock of escalating hostilities will only be achieved through engagement, without preconditions, just as when Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan Helmut Kohl and Mikhail Gorbachev did when they agreed to enter talks, without pre-emptive counterproductive preconditions.

These talks led to the end of the Cold War, to the destruction of thousands of nuclear missiles, the collapse of the Belin Wall, the end of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Empire.

We must recognise that, however short-sighted such a perspective might be, North Korea possesses a heightened awareness of the fates of denuclearised Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein and has radicalised its position on nuclear weapons institutionalising them as the cornerstone of its defence and survival strategy.

2017 marked the worst year in the past 20 for inter-Korean relations, with virtually no communication or cooperation between the two Koreas.

The situation three months ago was near catastrophic. While the EU the USA and the international community ratcheted up the most restrictive sanctions imposed on any country in the world; a countdown to a military strike began in the USA and China started building refugee centres.

It became increasingly obvious that war was inevitable. But the South Koreans never gave up hope; and today that hope can be turned into a lasting peace if we move sensitively recognising all the red lines.

I have come to know in minute detail what the red lines of the six powers involved in this conflict are. Some are complimentary, some contradict each other and some augment one another.

The European Parliament and the EEAS has a vital role in facilitating compromises, reducing opposing red lines and supporting those which complement one another; thus building consensus between the protagonists. In the event of progress being made; the European Union can not only support the dialogue but also announce that it would coordinate with the ROK to provide strictly monitored additional humanitarian aid to the DPRK, targeting vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and children.

This is why we, in the European Parliament Delegation, are quietly beginning confidence building measures, by holding talks between the protagonists on Track 1.5 and Track 2 lines, to support the proposed US – DPRK dialogue.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We warmly welcome the steps taken by President Moon´s Policy. It is courageous to pursue the goal of the eventual denuclearising of the Peninsula, working towards a peace treaty that has eluded this conflict for more than 64 years, with only an outdated armistice agreement for a guarantee.

President Trump must also be praised for his willingness to engage directly with the North Korean´s leadership, despite the inherent risks involved. The talks must succeed, for if they fail, the future is unthinkable. To those who say Oh we have been here before” I say in return what is our alternative?”

Our Parliament is usually behind the curve but not in this instance. We have been quietly talking to the North Koreans for the past three years and here we have a huge chance to make a vital contribution through our knowledge of the players; and so be ahead of the curve.

These are undeniably early days and the road ahead, will not be without serious challenges, but they are also, for the first time in recent memory, days of quiet hope.

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