The Korea-Russia Forum provided a valuable opportunity for representatives from the two countries to discuss a number of relevant issues, including the joint development of energy resources. In his opening remarks, Korea Foundation President Yim Sung-joon emphasized the need for two-way coordination and cooperation in order to realize the policy initiatives of the two new governments, of Korea’s Lee Myung-bak and Russia’s Dmitri Medvedev. Meanwhile, Russian Diplomatic Academy Rector Alexandr N. Panov called for a balanced approach to move forward with energy development and matters of mutual interest.
The Ninth Korea-Russia Forum was held at the historic Diplomatic Academy of Russia in Moscow, on May 29-30. Participants from the Russian side included 30 distinguished figures, such as Alexandr N. Panov, Rector of the Diplomatic Academy of Russia, the Russian organizer and host of the forum; Aleksey N. Borodavkin, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; Alexandr S. Dzasokhov, Member of the Federation Council of Russia; Konstantin B. Pulikovsky, Chairman of the Federal Environmental, Industrial, and Nuclear Supervision Service of Russia, and Co-Chairman of Korea-Russia Joint Committee on Economy, Science, and Technology Cooperation; and Vladimir R. Medinsky, Member of the State Duma, and Chairman of the Korea-Russia Inter-Parliamentary Council. Led by Yim Sung-joon, President of the Korea Foundation, the Korean delegation included Yoo Chong-ha, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Chairman of the Korea-Russia Friendship Society; Ko Heung-kil, An Kyung-ryul, and Chung Jin-suk, Members of the National Assembly; Lee Kyu-hyung, Korean Ambassador to Russia; Lee In-ho, former Korean Ambassador to Russia, and Kim Bo-jeong, Chair Professor, KAIST.New Governments in Korea and Russia
In their opening remarks, Foundation President Yim Sung-joon and Rector Panov looked back on the various contributions of the Korea-Russia Forum to the promotion of cooperative relations between the two countries, along with expressing their hopes that this forum session would also have a positive impact on the policy initiatives of the newly launched governments in their countries.
In their congratulatory remarks, Russian Federation Council Member Dzasokhov proposed the establishment of a “Korea-Russia Culture and Education Foundation,” while National Assembly Member Ko Heung-kil highlighted the balanced diplomacy objectives of the Lee Myung-bak administration. As for Ambassador Lee Kyuhyung, he pointed out the importance of strategic cooperation between the two countries, in fluent Russian, which earned the warm applause of the Russian participants. Of note, the most significant comment’s were presented by Konstantin Pulikovsky, Co-Chairman of the Korea-Russia Joint Committee on Economy, Science, and Technology Cooperation. He revealed a cooperative project for the development of natural gas resources, related to a long-term agreement between the Russian government and Korea for the supply of natural gas, which peaked the attention of the domestic media.Focus of Korea-Russia Cooperation
The initial discussion session focused on the policy direction of the new governments of Korea and Russia, and related bilateral cooperation.
The Korean side emphasized the need for efforts to deepen and upgrade mutual trust for a more comprehensive partnership, by linking the “2005 Action Plan,” Six-Party Talks, summit talks, and exchanges between high-ranking officials. Although stressing cooperation with the West, the Russian side regards NATO’s march to the east and expansion of the ABM program as a potential threat, while expressing hope for an expansion of multilateral efforts in the Northeast Asian region.
The second session centered on issues related to Northeast Asian energy security and Korea-Russia cooperation. As the most important theme of the forum, it included three sub-themes; Northeast Asian energy security environment and three-way energy cooperation, among North and South Korea and Russia, current status of and prospects for Korea-Russia energy cooperation, and the Russian Far East and Transbaikal development program and Korean participation. Discussion of specific and practical issues, instead of general principles, was possible because of the participation of scholars, as well as representatives and working-level officials of energy businesses, who attended the forum.
The Korean side called for Russian cooperation to enable Korea’s participation in the ESPO (East Siberia-Pacific Ocean) pipeline and UGSS (Unified Gas Supply System) projects, and the “special federal program” to develop the economy and society of the Russian Far East and Transbaikal regions by 2013, as announced by the Russian federal government in late 2007. The Russian side sounded out the possibility of its participation in the nuclear energy projects of Northeast Asia, in consideration of the dwindling supplies of fossil fuel. Outlook for Korea-Russian Relations
During the third discussion session, the participants reviewed ways to boost Korea-Russia exchanges in the fields of culture, education, and the humanities.
The Russian side expressed the hope to reach an agreement to establish a Korea-Russia Culture and Education Foundation, as suggested by Russian Federation Council Member Dzasokhov, so that an announcement could be made on the occasion of President Lee Myung-bak’s visit to Russia, which is likely to occur in the near future. The Korean participants suggested that the two countries organize “Russian Day” and “Korean Day” events on a regular basis, and publish an objective and factual history book, which is acceptable to both countries based on joint history research.
The Ninth Korea-Russia Forum was an occasion to again realize the many opportunities with vast potential for cooperation between Korea and Russia. Moreover, in order to move forward with large-scale cooperative ventures with Russia, in particular regard to energy resource projects, it will be essential, first and foremost, to establish trustbased relations between our two countries and peoples.