Seoul, Korea – National flags flanked a hall of the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel filled with 800 delegates from 91 nations attending UPF’s World Summit 2013 in Seoul, Korea, February 22 to 25.
“Peace and security are blessings from God, and it is vital to use all the teachings that come from God and take wise and bold measures to establish lasting peace and security,” declared H.E. Mohammad Karim Khalili, Vice President of Afghanistan. He opened summit sessions addressed by current heads of state and government from Europe, Africa, and Asia as well as First Ladies and Presidents of the National Assemblies.
The Chairman of UPF International, Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, welcomed participants and described his parents’ vision of a new global era in which all people would come together in love, “overcoming the barriers of nationality, race, and religion.”
UPF President Dr. Thomas Walsh explained that the Summit was dedicated to the vision, life work, and legacy of the late UPF Founder, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, who passed away September 3, 2012. Rev. Moon often spoke of February 22 as a providential turning point in history, launching a new era of peace, a world in which all people live together as one family under God. This spiritual vision found resonance in speakers who described remarkable changes taking place all over the world.
For example, the First Lady of Mali, Mme Mintou Doucoure Traore, lamented the invasion of the northern part of her country by Jihadists and drug traffickers and the displacement of large numbers of people, who are suffering not only from lack of food and resources, but rape of women and girls and cutting off of the hands of accused robbers. Speaking in French, she expressed appreciation for the intervention of France and neighboring nations and friends of Mali. “In the name of our common human family, in the name of humanity, that I appeal for your help for my country, OUR country, Mali, to come out of this dangerous impasse.”
The Minister of Information of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Hon. Lambert Mende Omalanga, reported that “for the first time the international community is taking into account external actors who are the main sources of disorder in our country.” That same day in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the African Union announced a plan by neighboring nations to bolster security in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Egyptian Sonia Ramzi, former Head of the Promotion of Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, and Egypt’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Hisham Badr, gave insights into current developments in their nation. Hon. Ran Cohen, former member of the Israeli Knesset, drew applause from the audience when he said “You cannot imagine what it means for a man like me coming from Israel to sit down with someone from neighboring East Jerusalem and to meet my brother Imam Murad from Jordan, and people from Egypt and Iran. UPF makes this possible. I don’t want Iranian bombs on Jerusalem,” he added. “Neither do I want Israeli bombs landing on Iran.”
He then embraced his companion at the head table, Dr. Hamdi Murad, who had previously made an impassioned appeal for a resolution to the Palestinian problem. During the question and answer period, people in the audience were eager to add their perspectives, resonating with Ran Cohen’s statement that scientific polling reveals that 75 percent of both the Palestinians and Israelis are for a two-state solution, but regrettably they elect political leaders who do not share that conviction.
Other speakers talked about the rocky transition from colonialism to independence. “The numerous challenges our young nations faced at the time made it difficult for them to cast away the contagion of the past,” said Rt. Hon. Morgan R. Tsvangirai, Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. He reported that Zimbabwe, with the help of international organs such as the African Union, is emerging from a period of instability and has drafted a new Constitution, which redefines a new value system for his country, including the development of a system of separation of powers, checks and balances, and rule of law.
The President of Guinea-Bissau, H.E. Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo, described a slow process of development in his West African nation after five centuries of Portuguese colonization, but he expressed strong faith in God and hope in the future of his nation.
On the other side of the planet, in a region normally thought of as idyllic, Mme Bronwyn Noda Lilo, wife of the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean, described a time of conflict between the people of the two largest islands beginning in 1999. The women of the islands, she said, banded together to help defuse conflict. Colin Craig, a businessman from New Zealand, and Hon. John David Clarke, a member of the Parliament of New South Wales, Australia, spoke strongly in support of Christian values and caring for others.
Several of the speakers have been at the forefront of building good neighborly relations between nations. Hon. Hashim Thaci, Prime Minister of Kosovo, reported that he had just returned from Brussels, where he had met with Serbian Prime Minister Dacic: “He was my former adversary, but today, under the leadership of the European Union and with the support of the US, we have met five times to ensure that they recognize the reality on the ground.” He described a gradual process of recognition of Europe’s newest state, adding that “It is a difficult process, especially because we are still lacking a formal apology for the past horrible crimes.” He closed by saying that, “For the sake of the future of our children, I will meet with whomever and wherever to ensure that our peoples can focus on development and growth, growth of families, growth of the economy and the growth of values.”
H.E. Zivko Budimir, President of the nearby Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, referred to his earlier role as a Croatian general in the wars in Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. Referring to the wisdom of ancient Greek philosophers and the UN Declaration of Human Rights, he concluded with a quote by a famous Nobel Laureate from the Balkans, Mother Teresa, who said “Love begins in our homes.”
Former South Korean General Dong Won Lim talked about the long impasse on the Korean Peninsula and the current concerns about North Korea’s nuclear tests. He had served as Minister of Unification under former South Korean president Kim Dae-jung. “The normalization of relations is important,” he declared. “It can stabilize the peace process. We have to make efforts to reduce tensions.” He expressed hope that South Korea’s newly elected president, Park Geun-hye, will reopen talks with the North.
These hopes were echoed by Amb. Tetsuya Endo, Japan’s former Ambassador in Charge of Japan-North Korea Normalization Talks, as well as Hon. Dennis Hastert, Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives and a veteran of the Korean War, who paid tribute to the host nation of the summit: “Today the world beats a pathway to the free people of Korea for the production of nuclear energy, high-tech engineering, and the latest techniques in automotive engineering.” He also paid tribute to The Washington Times newspaper for encouraging a “fair and balanced economic and political dialogue.”
“Sometimes it seems to me that I do not have a lot of companions along this way,” Zivko Budimir said, “and that it would be much simpler and easier to walk the way of the loud minority, the way of hypocrisy, lies, and injustice.” Surely this summit increased the number of companions accompanying him and others on their journey and gave them renewed confidence in the power of the spirit to overcome the forces that hinder peace, security, and development.
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