Remarks by President Donald Tusk following the 8th EU-Republic of Korea summit in Seoul

Thank you, Madam President, for your kind words and warm welcome. During challenging times, such as we are facing now in Europe with the refugee crisis, it is important to remain in close touch with old friends and resolute partners.

And, indeed, the European Union and the Republic of Korea are close. We share the same principles and hopes. And we share the same values, which lie at the heart of our strategic partnership. Europe is now this country’s largest investor, helping to generate jobs and wealth here. We are working closely on shared foreign policy challenges. Together, we are breaking new ground in science and technology.

Madam President, let me touch on some of the topics we covered today that stand out for me: I was impressed with progress in relations across your region over the summer. The announcement of a new trilateral summit between Korea, China and Japan shows the efforts you have been making on this front. This endeavour will be decisive in strengthening the stability and prosperity of your region in the coming years.

I also want to congratulate you on how you helped transform the recent crisis at the border with your neighbour to the North into a settlement, which could herald positive developments. I wish you success with the family reunions’ programme – the most simple but also the most evocative way to build bridges between your two countries. I also welcome efforts to have more exchanges between ROK and DPRK, and so to better cope with future stresses and strains that are sure to arise. The European Union supports a peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula and we really appreciate your personal engagement.

At the summit, we discussed regional issues affecting the European neighbourhood. I expressed my thanks to Korea for having voted in favour of United Nations General Assembly Resolution condemning Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea. We also agreed to support full and rapid implementation of the Minsk Agreements by all sides. This also includes Russia.

We both view investing in science and technology as key to generating future jobs and growth in our economies. We have seen a major leap in exchanges of researchers, of joint projects between Korean and European institutions and the opening of new areas of cooperation, such as the commitment to work jointly on development of 5G. Today, we agreed to further strengthen our cooperation in this area.

We also agreed to explore ways to use our Free Trade Agreement to grow closer together on both trade and investment. The three framework agreements we have signed since 2010 go beyond trade, investment and economic cooperation, however. They have also opened up the possibility to work together in the political and security spheres. We have already deepened our efforts in this area since the last summit. And I was very gratified to hear today of your country’s intention to expand cooperation further with us, such as in the counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa.

We lastly discussed in our meetings the global challenges that we face around the world. Again, we discussed solutions to better tackle those challenges, whether it be countering threats such as terrorism or climate change.

In three months, Paris will see one of the most important international events of the year: the UN climate conference, whose goal is to adopt a new climate change agreement. Climate change may put at risk not only the environment, but also prosperity, or even more broadly stability and security. To reach the deal, the European Union submitted the most ambitious contribution to date. In order to succeed, we need others, in particular major economies like the Korean, to join our lead in this process.

I end our meetings today absolutely optimistic for the future of our relations. I am confident that the friendship and strategic partnership we enjoy is expanding and deepening, and  will continue to do so. Thank you, Madam President.

Human Rights