Remarks by President Roh Moo-hyun of the Republic of Korea at the Opening Ceremony
10 Sep 2006, 14:50 en
Honorable Chair, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
I would like to offer my congratulations on the Opening of the 6th ASEM Summit Meeting, and express my deepest appreciation to the people of Finland.
I have every confidence that this meeting, held in such a historic city, where the foundations were firmly laid for overcoming the Cold War with the “Helsinki Final Act”, will be a resounding success.
It is now ten years since ASEM was launched. Over the last decade ASEM has played an important role in connecting Europe and Asia through the promotion of mutual understanding, exchanges and cooperation.
Through the ASEM meetings, the Asian countries are learning from Europe’s experience and achievements in integration and multilateral security cooperation. The experience of Europe is something that can serve as a very useful guide and reference for Asia, in establishing a peaceful and stable security order and seeking to build a regional community.
Furthermore, our two regions are also forging a close partnership in the economic field. If we further strengthen the cooperation between Asia, which continues to achieve dynamic growth with its large markets, and Europe, with its experiences as the largest single market, this will greatly benefit not only our two regions but indeed the global economy.
Korea has always had very special ties with ASEM. In the year 2000, we successfully hosted ASEM 3, and through various initiatives, we have made all our efforts to further strengthen the bonds of solidarity between our two regions. Those efforts include the “Information Silk Road” through high-speed IT network, an “Education Silk Road” based on the fellowship program, and an “Iron Silk Road” which will link the rails starting from an inter-Korean railway all the way into Europe.
Adding to this, Korea’s economic cooperation with European countries has also expanded significantly. The EU is now our second largest export market, and is Korea’s largest foreign investor. Last year, trade with the EU amounted to 52.7 billion Euros, double the amount ten years ago, and the number of Korean students studying in Europe has also risen more than two-fold.
Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
ASEM now needs to further elevate its level of cooperation on the basis of the achievements over the past 10 years. This “forum for dialogue” must now grow into a more substantial “medium for cooperation”. In this regard, it would be desirable for ASEM to expand and deepen its dialogue to meet the global challenges with common responses.
Above all, I believe that, with the advance of globalization and the information age, ASEM needs to more actively work to resolve the deepening socio-economic disparities that exist among regions, nations and different social classes.
Direct help such as in the form of aid is also important. Yet, capacity-building through the building of IT infrastructure and development of human resources to help people to adjust and respond appropriately to changes in the times will be an even more important task.
Korea, as it has done in the past, will continue to participate actively in ASEM efforts to resolve these socio-economic disparities, with a special focus on narrowing the digital and education divide.
It is my sincere hope that this meeting will prove to be a historic milestone, ushering in a new decade for ASEM, and I wish you all every health and happiness.
Thank you for your attention.