Moon calls for strengthened ties with Visegrad Group
President Moon Jae-in urged greater efforts to strengthen exchanges with the Visegrad Group (V4), a region of "dynamic" growth, a senior presidential secretary said Sunday, following a nine-day, three-country tour of Europe which wrapped up Friday after a state visit to Hungary.
Moon instructed aides to bolster cooperation with Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, which form the V4 countries, wrote Park Soo-hyun, senior presidential secretary for communication, in a Facebook post Sunday.
Park quoted Moon as saying that, "Korean companies are well aware of how dynamic the V4 countries are, but the people and media don't appear to be," stressing that the government should spread awareness.
The V4 is Korea's second largest trading partner in the European Union after Germany and its biggest investment destination. More than 650 Korean companies from various industries including electronics, automobile manufacturing and parts, chemical and steel, entered the market in these countries, with over 4,000 Koreans living there.
Moon said that compared with Western European economies that are stagnant or declining, "this region is growing dynamically."
The post noted the EU's average annual growth rate of 1.7 percent, compared to 3.6 percent for the V4 countries.
Korea and the V4 also share similarities in modern history, such as achieving democracy after overthrowing military-led authoritarian regimes or communism and suffering caused by foreign powers, said Park.
Moon also said that the next Korean administration should give great importance to the V4 countries, wrote Park.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, bilateral trade volume reached an all-time high of $16.8 billion in 2020, and increased by more than 30 percent this year, looking to surpass $20 billion. Korea's accumulated investment in the V4 surpasses $10 billion.
Moon and the V4 leaders held a joint press conference after their summit in Budapest Thursday, where they said they agreed to increase cooperation in science and technology, energy and infrastructure and people-to-people exchanges.
The 2nd Korea-V4 summit also coincided with the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Visegrad Group in 1991 as a cultural and political alliance of the four Central European countries.
In the press conference, Moon noted that bilateral cooperation is strengthening in promising future industries such as batteries for electric vehicles (EVs).
Korea is also taking part in transportation, energy and digital infrastructure construction projects in V4 countries, and the two sides agreed to expand such cooperation and create new growth opportunities and foster a hydrogen economy, he added.
"The V4 has excellent capabilities in basic science, and Korea is equipped with unmatched competitiveness in applied science such as information and communication technology," said Moon. "If these strengths are combined, we will be able to take the lead together in the era of the fourth industrial revolution."
The two sides agreed to push the European Green Deal and the Korean Green New Deal "in a bid to lend support for the transition to a low-carbon economy and overcoming the climate crisis," he added.
Moon held separate bilateral summits with the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.
Moon also took part in a business forum with the V4 countries and highlighted strengthening economic cooperation in EV batteries, new industries and infrastructure.
Seven memorandums of understanding (MOUs) were signed between Korea and the V4 countries in sectors including green and digital growth, biohealth and defense.
Korea and Hungary agreed to upgrade their bilateral ties to a strategic partnership following the bilateral summit between Moon and Hungarian President Janos Ader on Wednesday.
Moon wrapped up his whirlwind trip Friday, which also took him to Italy for the G20 summit and a meeting with Pope Francis and Britain for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.
Korea at the COP26 climate summit announced its upgraded nationally determined contributions (NDC) targets, committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030 from its peak in 2018. On Tuesday, Korea signed onto the Global Methane Pledge, committing to reduce potent methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]