Better leverageThe Inter-Korean Summit will take place just six months before the end of President Roh’s term. A major problem is whether the next government can implement any agreements made by Roh. Agreements made by the current government can be carried forward by the next, but much preparation is required in order to make that happen
In an interview in mid-June, Roh said the bills incurred by a previous director of a company are bound to be paid by his successor. He then argued that his successor would have to implement the agreements he signed with the North, whether they were agreed two months or three months before the end of his term in office. It is not right to overturn an agreement just because the administration has changed. However, that does not mean an agreement must be adhered to in exactly the same way.
Article 60-1 of the constitution stipulates that diplomatic agreements which have critical implications for national security, or produce considerable financial burdens for citizens, can be effective only after they have been ratified by the National Assembly. The inter-Korean agreements are no exception. Therefore it would be troublesome if those agreements go beyond the national consensus. The president had better try to extend the degree of consensus before the summit by fully negotiating with leaders of both the ruling party and opposition parties.
The ruling party says the Inter-Korean summit should be supported by all parties, regardless of differences. Yet, as the opposition party points out, it is problematic simply to demand cooperation without informing them of what the president plans to agree with Pyongyang. Moreover Roh has already indicated he will make an agreement at this summit that will produce a large financial burden for the next government. The president’s position seems to be “I dare you to refuse,” but it’s wrong for the president to push his argument in this way.
For Roh to reveal all his summit strategies would be disadvantageous. However, the Grand National Party chooses their presidential candidate next week. If he is willing, the president can invite the GNP’s chosen candidates and their representatives to the Blue House to explain the government’ position on the summit and ask for their cooperation.
This is a process that must be followed in order to secure the long-term development of inter-Korean relations. The diplomatic leverage of President Roh, who is now nearing the end of his term, will increase if he does not neglect this process.