May 23, 2023
SEOUL – President Yoon Suk Yeol and European Union leaders have agreed to strengthen their cooperation to foster peace and stability in their regions in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and North Korea’s growing provocations, during their summit held in Seoul on Monday.
Yoon held a summit meeting on Monday with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel, who flew to Seoul after attending the Group of Seven summit held in Hiroshima, Japan. This is the first time the two EU leaders, who took office in 2019, visited Korea. It is also the first time Yoon has had a formal meeting with the EU leadership.
During the summit, the leaders adopted a joint statement to underscore their commitment to addressing security challenges in both the Korean Peninsula and Europe.
“Russia must stop its aggression and immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders,” a statement released by the Korean presidential office reads.
They agreed to maintain and increase “collective pressure on Russia,” particularly through effective implementation of the respective restrictive measures. They are also committed to support Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction and remain resolved to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.
The leaders “strongly condemn” North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches, as well as its ongoing nuclear development and references to the possible use of nuclear weapons.
North Korea “must immediately comply” with its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions by abandoning all its nuclear weapons, any other weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missile programs and existing nuclear programs, in a “complete, verifiable and irreversible” manner and cease all related activities, the statement said.
The European Union has taken the lead in adopting the United Nations resolution on North Korean human rights on an annual basis. This year, after a five-year hiatus, South Korea returned as a co-sponsor of the resolution. During the presidency of former President Moon Jae-in, South Korea abstained from voting on the annual resolution in an effort to avoid straining relations with Pyongyang.
On Monday morning, the EU council president shared a photo of his visit to Panmunjom on Twitter.
“The De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) is a scar on the Korean Peninsula. Generations torn apart. The desire for freedom will always be stronger. North Korea’s nuclear armament threatens peace in the region,” Michel tweeted.
The leaders also reaffirmed their support for freedom of overflight and navigation, including in the South China Sea. Although the statement did not mention “China,” the leaders stressed the importance of “preserving peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait” and oppose unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the Indo-Pacific.
They also agreed to develop a security partnership and establish a strategic dialogue at the foreign ministerial level to enhance their cooperation on global peace and security.