MIKTA group reflects on its first year

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MIKTA group reflects on its first year

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Top envoys from the MIKTA countries - Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey and Australia - participate in a seminar on the year-old partnership at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seocho District, central Seoul, on Thursday. By Park Sang-moon

Almost a year has passed since MIKTA was officially launched as an informal platform for cooperation and consultation to bring together the middle-power countries of Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey and Australia.

Reflecting on the past year, top envoys from the MIKTA countries in Korea pointed to the importance of their collective soft power and diplomacy as mid-sized nations to play a stronger role as mediators in international affairs in a roundtable seminar held at the state-run Korea National Diplomatic Academy (KDNA) in Seocho District, central Seoul, on Thursday.

Mexico’s Ambassador to Korea Jose Luis Bernal said the consultative group will be “able to bridge differences because of their location, regional roles, influence on multilateral negotiations, experience in sorting out crises and good diplomatic skills.”

Some 70 other participants joined the forum including the ambassadors of Malaysia, Belarus and Kenya, government officials and other international affairs experts to discuss the future vision and sustainability of the group.

The seminar “MIKTA: New Partnership for Good Global Governance,” was co-hosted by the KDNA’s Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS) and the Embassy of Mexico.

MIKTA is often compared to BRICS, which refers to five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

The MIKTA ambassadors highlighted some of the commonalities between their countries such as their democratic values, strategic locations in their respective regions, dynamic economies with robust growth and common interest in supporting global efforts for stability and prosperity. They are also big emerging markets with similar economic sizes ranging from 12th to 17th in the world.

Lee Kyung-soo, Korea’s deputy minister for political affairs, said in an opening address, “MIKTA aims to be a useful facilitator in addressing global issues, a consultative body contributing in creative ways to the development of multilateralism, and an agenda-setter for the shaping of a new global governance.”

“There are obviously a number of skeptics that are questioning MIKTA’s long-term survival,” commented Ambassador John Aristianto Prasetio of Indonesia.

“In the current world order, MIKTA is the middle-power that has a window of opportunity to broker greater power relations,” he said. “In short, MIKTA can contribute to world order by being an honest broker” and be “consensus-builders” in the international community.

Australian Ambassador William Paterson added that MIKTA countries have “a strong voice in many of the world’s leading forums” such as the G-20, World Trade Organization or the UN Security Council, “where Australia and Korea are working closely together as non-permanent members.

MIKTA was officially launched on Sept. 25 last year at a gathering of the five countries’ foreign ministers at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

At the third meeting of the MIKTA foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York this September, Korea will take over from Mexico as the coordinator of the group for one year.

In the past year, the MIKTA countries have issued a joint declaration encouraging North Korean denuclearization on April 14 and another joint statement on July 26 condemning the tragic downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, which killed 298.

Panelists pointed out that MIKTA could respond more quickly to such events because of its smaller size. But they emphasized that MIKTA will not be an exclusive group.

The five countries’ foreign ministers gathered in a retreat in Mexico City in April where they agreed to bolster cooperation on a post-2015 development agenda, cyberspace security, climate change, the environment, human rights and migration, according to Ambassador of Turkey to Seoul Arslan Hakan Okcal, though “political affairs played a priority” as well.

“The Park Geun-hye government was pursuing the middle-power diplomacy as one of its foreign policy visions even before the official inauguration of MIKTA,” said Shin Bong-kil, President of IFANS. “To take Korea, for example, although we are not big in terms of territory, we are a major power in the fields of education, IT and R&D research and development.”

He added, “In that sense, MIKTA is part of Korea’s friend-seeking diplomacy.”

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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