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Roh Makes Controversial Remarks at 60th UN Summit

Posted September. 16, 2005 06:34,   


In his keynote speech at the 60th U.N. General Assembly Meeting yesterday afternoon, President Roh Moo-hyun said, “Imperialistic thoughts and vestiges that still remain in various areas of the world should be eliminated,” adding, “We should keep an eye on a powerful country-led structure that is emerging again in some areas.”

His speech focused on the subject of U.N. reform as well. He stressed, “As far as this is concerned, in particular, the countries that currently take the lead in the world order should first show introspection and abstain from wielding their powers.”

The president’s remark on “imperialistic thinking and remnants” stirred controversy because his remarks reminded participants of a specific country.

In general, imperialism refers to when a powerful country expands its political and economic power to other countries by invading them or exerting its influence over them.

After World War II, former imperial empires such as the U.K., France and Japan that existed from late 19th century to early 20th century gave up their imperialist designs on the world. However, socialistic countries, including North Korea, and countries in the third world regard the U.S., which has an iron grip on the international community because of its status as the world’s sole superpower, as a imperialistic country.

Regarding this controversy, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Man-soo said, “The president’s keynote address was not delivered with a specific country in his mind.” He added, “The president’s remark focused on expressing his support for reforming the U.N. Security Council and developing, middle-power states, not on powerful countries.”

Kim’s explanation is being interpreted as saying the president’s remarks were aimed at the so-called “G4 Group,” including Japan, Germany, India and Brazil, which has pushed ahead with a proposal to expand the number of permanent members in the U.N. Security Council, as well as at the group called Uniting for Consensus (UFC), including South Korea, which has zeroed in on the goal of increasing the number of non-permanent seats.

President Roh said, “The U.N. should aspire to be a reciprocal community in which all of the member nations’ opinions will be respected. A reform plan to promote harmony in the international community should be drawn up, instead of one that leads to a UN dominated by powerful countries.”

Some say that it was not proper for the president to make misunderstanding-causing remarks at the UN Summit.

During his speech, the president also stressed, “The UN should further strengthen efforts to raise the level of respect for neighboring countries, create an international consensus and break cycles of confrontation,” adding, “When powerful countries try to achieve international order by pursuing peace and co-prosperity, tension between power and causes will be able to be resolved.”

In addition, the president said, “We can find hope from the EU. Europe is now building a community aiming at peace, co-existence, reconciliation and cooperation after overcoming an order based on power, order of antagonism and confrontation,” adding, “I hope that the Northeast Asia will realize order like the one shown by the EU.”

According to a Cheong Wa Dae official, when the president met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the waiting room after completing his speech, he said, “I place a high value on the effort to write off developing countries’ liabilities that the prime minister is leading.” In response, Blair expressed his gratitude.

On top of that, the president held summit meetings with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Mongolian President Nambarin Enkhbayar.

The president is scheduled to hold an interview with CNN on September 15 and attend a dinner meeting hosted by Korea Society. The president will return to Korea on September 17 (Korean time) after completing his 10-day tour to Central America and the UN.

Yeon-Wook Jung jyw11@donga.com