No people power in North, says MBNorth Korea’s regime won’t be pulled down by a pro-democracy movement inspired by the Jasmine Revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa, President Lee Myung-bak told a German newspaper Monday.
In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Lee said such pro-democracy movements are an irreversible trend across the world, but “North Korean society is much more shut off [from the outside world] and lacks information [of the outside world],” Lee said.
“That’s why the revolution in the Middle East won’t have a direct impact on North Korea. It will be so at least for the time being,” Lee said.
Lee is visiting Germany as part of his European tour that also includes stops in Denmark and France. He leaves for Denmark today.
Late last month, North Korean officials told visiting former U.S. President Jimmy Carter that it is ready to talk “about all issues at any time” with South Korea. But Lee said he hasn’t seen any evidence of sincerity in that offer.
Lee told the German paper that the South is willing to accept Pyongyang’s offer for talks only after the North proves its honesty by issuing an apology for two deadly attacks last year.
“North Korea repeats the same pattern of shuffling between provoking and saying it wants to talk,” Lee said. “We need earnest talks. It will also be a good opportunity for North Korea.”
Lee also said that the South will make sure it will respond sternly to any North Korean provocations.
“Such response will surely influence North Korea to stop its threats to the South,” he said.
In the interview, Lee denied speculation that the ongoing power succession process in the North has made it difficult for the two Koreas to talk, saying that, on the contrary, Pyongyang needs stability for the power succession to be pulled off successfully.
North Korea, evidently, was a main theme for Lee’s visit to Berlin, the symbolic city of German reunification and the president’s first stop in the European tour.
Lee met yesterday with a group of former and incumbent officials of Germany who were deeply involved in the 1990 reunification of their homeland and listened to their views on how the South can better prepare for unification with the North.
Lothar De Maiziere, the last prime minister of East Germany, and then-West German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble were among those who attended the meeting.
In the meeting, Lee stressed the need for Germany to share its experiences of unification with Korea, proposing an advisory council between the two countries’ governments and civilian sectors.
One of Lee’s key interests, according to Seoul officials, has been how to integrate the two Koreas’ drastically different economies.
Last year, Lee proposed introducing a special tax to prepare for the massive unification costs, but the idea was not received positively by the liberal opposition parties.
After the meeting, Lee was scheduled to fly to the German financial center of Frankfurt.
Among Lee’s agenda in Frankfurt include a roundtable discussion with CEOs of major German companies and a meeting with South Korean residents.
By Moon Gwang-lip [email@example.com]
한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
MB “중동혁명, 북에 직접 영향 못 끼쳐”
독일 유력지 FAZ 인터뷰
이명박 대통령은 10일(현지시간) “중동혁명은 북한에 직접 영향을 끼칠 순 없다. 적어도 당분간 그럴 것”이라고 말했다. 이 대통령은 독일의 유력지 ‘프랑크푸르터 알게마이네 차이퉁(FAZ)’과의 인터뷰에서 “북한 사회가 많이 차단돼 있고 정보도 부족하다”며 이같이 전망했다. 그러나 궁극적으론 “북한도 (중동의) ‘재스민 혁명’ 같은 움직임을 거역할 수 없다”고 봤다.
남북대화와 관련해 이 대통령은 “권력 세습이 3대로 이어지는 시작 단계이기 때문에 북한은 안정성을 원한다”며 “아마도 대화 용의를 보일 것”이라고 말했다.
이 대통령은 이날 동·서독 통일에 주도적 역할을 한 독일 인사들과 조찬간담회를 가진 후에는 “우리 국민 중 남북 간에 경제적 격차가 크다보니 경제적 부담을 느끼는 사람이 있을 수 있지만 결국 길게 보면 통일은 긍정적인 면이 많다”며 “통일은 선택의 문제가 아닌 필연적 과제 ”라고도 했다.