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JPI PeaceTalk
Subject JPI PeaceTalk with Steven BLOCKMANS, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for European Policy Studies, Belgium
Author JPI  (admin)
File
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2018-12-05 오후 5:59:31

 

 

 

Q1. Could you briefly introduce yourself to JejuTube viewers?

 

My name is Steven Blockmans, I'm a professor of EU External Relations Law and Governance at University of Amsterdam. And I had the EU Foreign Policy Unit at the Centre for European Policy Studies, CEPS, which is a think tank based in Brussels.

 

Q2. Could you briefly explain the idea of an interregional cooperation initiative?

 

So the idea for this reach into international cooperation initiative is to increase regional cooperation between East Asia, North East Asia, in particular, and other regions. And of course the European as well as ASEAN could play an important role in that respect in order to beef up not just economic governance but also efforts of increasing security throughout a wider region.

 

Q3. Interregional cooperation, which is heavily dependent on economic cooperation, faces difficulties resulting from competition between the regional blocks and crisis of liberal internationalism. What should Northeast Asia do now to build an interregional cooperation initiative to ensure interregional cooperation in politics and security beyond economic field?

 

Well, the low edge of the wedge is indeed to find territories of policy areas where there is a commonality of interest and an impetus for political willingness to mature into concrete cooperation in the field. I think here what Korea and its partners in the Northeast Asian context could do is to look, of course, at the partners in the region but also further beyond. You may have distant relatives in your family, for example, in Europe that are interested to increase more general Asia-Europe cooperation, which has been embodied for many years since 1996 in the ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting), which of course developed along those lines in the economic field. And the Republic of Korea of course in 2000 hosted the summit, which was chaired at the time by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kim Dae-jung, very respected.


I think there are still mileage in this ASEM initiative which is maybe slipped into the background a little bit not just on economic front but also to try and bring to the far more non-traditional security issues which are of common interests. We are in Jeju where there is at the moment and many crisis around refugees. The flow of migrants and refugees is something, which entertains politicians and policymakers across the globe and of course in Asia-Europe context, this could be emboldened. But it goes further than that in the areas of fighting terrorism in piracy and of course corruption more generally. These are areas, which are politically sensitive, nonetheless, which are not solely domestic and have international, inter-regional components, which could be addressed in initiatives such as ASEM. And this is, as I mentioned, just one of the efforts or avenues that Korea and Northeast Asian partners could look at.

 

Q4. The confrontation between two major powers, the US and China, has aggravated regional peace and security. How do you evaluate the current status of the US-China relationship and its influence in Asia, in particular in terms of the evolving of China’s “Belt and Road Initiatives” and US-proposed “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” strategy?

 

Right, so a lot of initiatives have indeed been created. We speak at a time when James Mattis is in Beijing trying to research, of course, US interests in the region and specifically with China. China has been very active in the South China Sea. The US is trying to curb that increased power, of course, by keeping international maritime lanes open and insisting on freedom of navigation also throughout the South China Sea. And it has developed a wider concept of Indo-Pacific cooperation which centers around economic and security interests.

 

Meanwhile, China has, as you mentioned in your questions, taken inroads quite literally through several silk routes into Central Asia as well as Europe. I think here there are plenty of initiatives, which are being created, which show that multilateralism may have suffered, as a result of America First policy of Mr. Trump, which is translating, it seems, into America alone reality mostly, where other actors are trying to increase their inter-regionalism and cooperation. And China is certainly doing that by throwing its economic weight around in big infrastructure projects also in Europe. But rubbing up against structural differences which exist in economic policy which from the European side which is a heavily institutionalized form of regulatory cooperation of course leads to insistence on screening of foreign direct investment, adherence to transparency in public procurement, competition lawyer and stated rules which ought to be observed.


So you see a proliferation of all kinds of initiatives. Also by the US in that context which gives you an idea that whilst multilateralism may be under strain at the moment, inter-regionally it is not waning. There are offshoots that could produce new forms of cooperation and hopefully set new rules also at the global scale.

 


Q5. Building conditions for peace in the Korean peninsula have been in full swing since the inauguration of the Moon Jae-in administration. With North Korea’s participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics serving as the momentum for two Panmunjom inter-Korean Summits, North Korea-China Summit and US-North Korea Summit, the North has been pushing forward for negotiations with the US to exchange its denuclearization for regime security guarantee. Now appears to be a timely moment for the larger, more powerful neighbors – such as the US, China, Japan, and Russia - to put in a “concerted effort” in close coordination with South Korea in order to contribute to the denuclearization of North Korea and tension reduction on the Korean Peninsula. What do you think is the most important roles that they should play? What do you think is the most important roles that EU member states should play?



I think first as far as the US, Russia, China are concerned, of course, there are regional as well as global powers and they have been supportive of the different sides on the 38th parallel. And in that sense, very great responsibility at nudging both parts on the Korean peninsula closer to denuclearization solution for the peninsula. They again show differences in approach and we've not only seen this in the sanction area where China and Russia has been more accommodating to North Korean concerns and left channels open. We've also seen this on the US side and of course the grand overture that Mr. Trump made at the Singapore summit with the North Korean leader suggests that normal ways, certainly normal American ways of diplomacy, are being reinvented sometimes on the fly. This is not necessarily conducive, I think, to a structural, durable solution and it would be wiser from that point of view to extract this issue from several bilateral tracks on which North Korea seems to be moving both with China, of course, in several occasions with South Korea, and on a number of occasions with US.


I think the world powers would do well and this brings in the European dimension. It would do well in bringing this back into the fold of the UN Security Council. A specific expertise which the European as an organization above and beyond its individual member states who are part of the Security Council can bring is, I think, drawn from the Iran nuclear deal experience where the EU has facilitating for more than a decade, the talks which led to JCPOA, the Iran nuclear deal, and which has been also supervising as a monitoring body of the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal. I think there might be elements, not just a copy and paste model, which has been used there. There might be elements in both a procedural as well as a substantive form of the Iran nuclear arrangements, which could be used for the denuclearization issue on the Korean peninsula and thereby bring in an EU expertise.

 

Q6. Please briefly explain your opinion about the future of regionalism.

 

Well, regionalism in itself, so stepping away from inter-regionalism, is suffering, you know, some strains as well. If we look at the European Union, of course, the result of Brexit and the rise of populism in central European countries as well as Italy, you see the integration momentum is somehow faltering. I do think, however, if you look at a little deeper that Brexit and the refugee migrant crisis, of course, all the violent conflicts on the eastern and southern front of the European neighborhood have resulted in a so called “integration dividend,” which shows that the European member states find that there is added value in working together at a higher level than that of the EU in order to protect their own interests collectively. And so you see integration moves happening at the European slowly but surely as a result of Brexit, as a result of these crises, in the fields of external border management and in an expeditionary sense also the beefing up of security and defense arrangements in Europe.


Regionalism in ASEAN which is probably key towards any future into regional arrangements between Europe and Asia in large has also suffered, I think, from the classic ASEAN way of doing things which is premised on respect for sovereignty, rightly so, and non-interference into domestic affairs which has made its intergovernmental mode of functioning rather slow, albeit steady. I think there's room for improvement there, too. And other forms of regionalism that we have seen on the Northeast Asian side - they still have to come to full fruition. So looking around the world, it's maybe the area of Latin America in fact where you see most promising signs of regionalism translating to concrete cooperative action at the moment. We see steeper learning curve and implementation curve than in other parts of the world.

 


Q7. How will multilateral talks such as the Jeju Forum contribute to promoting peace better? What direction do you think the Jeju Forum should take in the future?

 

I think the Forum has taken a very important role in promoting peace and prosperity throughout the peninsula as well as Asia in large. And I think it should continue on this track because unfortunately the world has moved in a direction which is more of contestation rather than cooperation. So I think stay the course would be my advice.

 

Q8. Any last words to JejuTube viewers?

 

Thank you very much for your attention and I hope to be contributing in the future.