Bipartisanship is pivotalThe Blue House has announced President Park Geun-hye will head a preparatory committee for unification next month. That shows the president’s determination to lead the committee she vowed to set up to accelerate the process of building a foundation for reunification. As Park directly takes the helm of the committee, it can calm concerns about its role overlapping with the Ministry of Unification and the National Unification Advisory Council, a constitutional body in the government.
The role and function of the committee is comprehensive - fixing the basic direction of unification preparations, finding and studying urgent tasks in each field, and cooperation among the government, civil organizations and research institutes, to name a few - all to expedite a social consensus. The committee consists of less than 50 members representing government and civil sectors.
The committee will have two vice chairpersons, one each from the government and civil sector. The rare establishment of a joint committee under the president can take advantage of all the experience and expertise of various civic groups and research centers, which have contacted North Korea on their own.
As the outline of the committee becomes clearer, people are paying attention to who will work on it. For the successful operation of the committee, bipartisan appointments are pivotal. Participation of not only opposition parties but also other liberal groups will enable the committee to serve as a sustainable institutional platform to brace for reunification regardless of who takes power. Opposition Democratic Party Chairman Kim Han-gill also proposed that such a committee be composed of bipartisan members so it can continue to play its role despite government changes.
The issue must not be approached from the perspective of political interests, nor should it be an exclusive property of a certain government. Germany offers a good lesson. German reunification was possible thanks to West German governments’ efforts to pursue consistent unification policies, regardless of their political differences.
German unification didn’t come suddenly. We must follow in the footsteps of Germany. Otherwise, we can hardly convince the international community about the need for reunification, nor can our diplomacy draw support from them.
Given the overly wide spectrum of unification arguments, the committee cannot succeed without bipartisanship. In this light, the appointment of a civilian vice chairperson is also very important.
JoongAng Ilbo, March 15, Page 34