On 26 January 2021, Open Nuclear Network (ONN) held the first two sessions of its two-day annual Engagement Network Retreat. The event was opened by a keynote address from Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with the Korean Peninsula (DKOR) Lukas Mandl.
In the session titled Escalation Risks on the Korean Peninsula - EU Engagement, MEP Mandl shared his views on the role the European Union could play in facilitating a peaceful resolution of the Korean Peninsula crisis. MEP Mandl noted that the DPRK’s WMD and missile capabilities pose a threat not only to regional security and stability, but also raise significant concerns in the EU. It is therefore also in the interest of the EU to seek resolution of the crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
According to MEP Mandl, the EU’s current critical engagement approach to the DPRK, which combines sanctions, humanitarian aid and dialogue, needs to be revised. In recent years the main emphasis in the approach has been on sanctions, which, in his view, “has led to a diminished role for the EU.” The MEP pointed out that, overall, the critical engagement approach failed to achieve its stated goals of reduction of tensions, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and improvement of the human rights situation. MEP Mandl believes that the EU “should resume the political dialogue with the DPRK and consider establishing an EU representation in Pyongyang as well as a North Korean Embassy in Brussels. It is important to underline that the opening of communication channels is not a reward but a necessary condition for effective diplomacy.”
Concluding his remarks, MEP Mandl emphasized that the EU could play a larger role in facilitating resolution of the Korean Peninsula crisis. In addition to contributions in the economic field and promoting people-to-people contacts through academic exchanges, the MEP referenced the role the EU played in preserving the Iran Deal (JCPOA). “Due to its high credibility, stemming from its constructive role in the negotiations and its continued support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran – even after the US withdrawal – the EU could play the role of a facilitator and guarantor of an agreement. In comparison to other powers, the EU has less direct interests in the region, which would give her more credibility as a mediator,” said MEP Mandl.
Reflecting on the keynote session with MEP Mandl, ONN’s Engagement Network member Dr. Zhao Tong, senior fellow in Carnegie's Nuclear Policy Program based at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, said: “MEP Mandl's remarks were inspirational and highlighted the widely shared view that European countries can play a useful role in engaging with North Korea to reduce nuclear risks and promote other shared interests. As the other powers are distracted by competition among themselves and as North Korea doubles down on its nuclear program, the role of European countries becomes more important.”
For the full text of MEP Mandl speech please see here.