Thoughts from a forumEurasia is the largest place on Earth, accounting for 40 percent of its land and 70 percent of the world’s population. Considering former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski’s famous words — “Who rules Eurasia controls the destinies of the world” — it is needless to say that the fate of the world rests on cooperation between Europe and Asia. Who can play a role as a bridge between the two to enhance their cooperation?
The J Global-Chatham House-Future Consensus Institute Forum 2016, which convened on Monday in Seoul, was a meaningful attempt to mull the implications of the interconnectivity and effective ways to promote the cooperation. Outstanding politicians, scholars and high government officials from Korea, China and Japan in Northeast Asia as well as from the United Kingdom, France and Russia in Europe all underscored the strong need to promote cooperation on the vast continents.
They highlighted a need to link China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road initiative and Russia’s new Far East policy and Korea’s Eurasia Initiative propelled by President Park Geun-hye. That could bring together energy and logistic infrastructure initiatives throughout the region. The participants also reached consensus that Asia and Europe need to take advantage of the opening of the Northern Sea Route to tackle alarming challenges from climate change.
In the meantime, participants shared the recognition that North Korea’s relentless pursuit of nuclear armaments and a new era of isolationism and populism — as confirmed by Britain’s recent decision to exit the European Union and even the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump — have emerged as the biggest obstacles to Eurasian cooperation.
While the participants agreed to the seriousness of the North’s nuclear ambitions, they took different approaches to solutions. A renowned scholar from Peking University argued that the international community must wait with patience because the Kim Jong-un regime will collapse due to sanctions and isolation. But the professor’s argument faced an instant rebuttal that the international society’s patience has led to where we stand today. In regard to the new isolationism and populism, however, there was no disagreement on the importance of engaged political leadership.
Though no consensus could be reached, the participants reached a consensus that Korea can serve as a catalyst for facilitating such cooperation. That accomplishment alone deserves a thumbs-up.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 12, Page 30