South Korean National Assembly speaker tells Anadolu Agency that 2 nations ‘active in parliamentary cooperation’.
ANKARA (AA) – Lawmakers represent the voice and thinking of the people, said South Korean National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug.
Park advocates “frequent exchanges and candid discussions” between the Turkish and South Korean parliaments.
“It would contribute to further improvement of bilateral ties between the two countries,” said Park, who visited Turkey from Aug. 14 – 18.
He told Anadolu Agency that parliamentary diplomacy is “equally important as government-to-government exchanges.”
“Turkey is the only country in the world that is referred to as ‘Brother Country’ by the Korean people,” he said, reflecting on his trip to Turkey.
Park met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and was hosted by Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop.
He was accompanied by six South Korean lawmakers.
“When we talk about Korea and Turkey relations, we cannot go without mentioning Korean War veterans,” said the veteran politician.
Park laid a wreath and met five Korean War veterans at the Korean War Memorial during his visit.
“I and the accompanying six MPs were so impressed by their presence and the stories we heard from them,” said Park.
The Korean War erupted on June 25, 1950, as the North invaded the South along the 38th parallel that acted as a border.
The war unofficially ended on July 27, 1953, and because a peace agreement was not reached, both sides are looking to reach a deal on permanent peace 68 years after the “Panmunjom Cease-Fire Agreement.”
Turkey sent 21,212 soldiers to fight for freedom in a land that is 9,000 kilometers (5,600 miles) from the Turkish mainland. Turkey lost more than 1,000 soldiers during the war.
“I sincerely thanked the Korean War veterans for their sacrifices,” said Park. “I strongly believe that they laid the foundation of the current Korean political and economic prosperity. We will never forget the sacrifices and support of our Turkish brothers during the War.”
He said his government was also doing projects for veterans “to present Korean people’s appreciation.”
2 countries enjoy ‘active parliamentary cooperation’
He said Korea and Turkey have been “enjoying very good relations since diplomatic relations were officially set in 1957.”
The two countries established a strategic partnership in 2012 and the current trade volume is around $6 billion.
Park said Turkey and South Korea are “active in parliamentary cooperation” as they already have established friendship associations in their respective parliaments.
“Mutual visits by the parliament members are steadily rising and I have already extended an invitation to Speaker Sentop this year to Korea, and I expect his visit as soon as possible,” he said.
South Korea and Turkey are also members of the G20 and MIKTA, which also organize ‘Speakers’ Meetings’ at the international level.
MIKTA is an informal power partnership between Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Australia and is led by the foreign ministers of these member countries.
“We are closely cooperating in MIKTA,” he informed.
He said the two countries are “actively seeking higher volumes of trade, and investment, also more joint projects in various fields including culture and tourism.”
Park said his team explored new areas with the Turkish side “where Korea and Turkey should cooperate further such as Smart City, renewable energy and many infrastructure projects in Turkey and third country markets.”
“The meeting was so fruitful and practical that I hope to continue the discussions in upcoming occasions,” he said.
“I also had the honor to meet with President Erdogan, and we discussed many issues including ways to further develop our economic cooperation and also mutual partnership in the world arena such as in Afghanistan,” said Park, referring to the US withdrawal from the war-torn country and international efforts to stabilize the country.
“Both of us hope that our two countries should have more joint projects in other countries as well. We also talked about expanding cooperation in the defense industry,” he added.