Czech PM Urges End to US Economic Blockade on NK

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), March 19, 2001 | Go to article overview

Czech PM Urges End to US Economic Blockade on NK


From the perspective of Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, the decades-long U.S. economic blockade, imposed on both Cuba and North Korea, is not an efficient tool to help them pursue the path of democratization.

That is one of the reasons why his country sponsored a U.N. resolution, which included criticism of the U.S. embargo as well as a denouncement of the human rights situation under the Fidel Castro regime, at a U.N. Human Rights Commission meeting this week.

In this vein, Zeman emerged as a strong backer of President Kim Dae-jung's sunshine policy of engaging North Korea, because this policy, putting an end to Pyongyang's isolation, opens the way for brisk exchanges of both goods and people.

In an interview with The Korea Times on Saturday, just before leaving Seoul after a three-day visit, the 57-year-old prime minister disclosed his views on Seoul's North Korea policies, Prague's possible contribution to the peace process on the Korean peninsula and the expansion of Seoul-Prague economic cooperation.

Zeman said that his country, one of the leading nuclear power plant builders, wants to join a project to build two light-water nuclear reactors in North Korea under the auspices of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), a U.S.-led international consortium.

The prime minister, a graduate of the Prague School of Economics, also expressed his interest in the proposed project to connect the inter-Korean railway with the Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR), noting that Czech companies are experienced in this field.

Zeman, a chain smoker, also jokingly unveiled what is behind his habit of heavy smoking.

The following are questions and answers made during the interview.

Question: What were the main topics of your summit with President Kim Dae- jung?

Zeman: We took up many areas. First of all, I expressed my admiration on President Kim's sunshine policy. Czechs highly appreciate Nobel Prize winners and Nobel Prize winners for peace are considered as the best politicians in the world in the given era. This is something like the gold medal in the Olympics.

The sunshine policy has some interesting aspects for the Czech Republic. There is a proposal of a resolution for Cuba by the Czech Republic and the United Nations. There are many disputes over the condemnation of the misusing and not fulfilling of human rights in Cuba. The economic blockade is an inefficient tool for the democratization of any country. I feel the same situation on the Korean peninsula. Because, in Cuba's case, for 40 years Fidel Castro is the chief of this island, for more or less 40 years this blockade is applied. If you want to do something for 40 years, you are completely unsuccessful. There is an isolation of North Korea. The sunshine policy is in opposition to this isolation. It is to open contacts for exchange not only of goods but also of people. I appreciate such a policy. The reunification of Germany has been possible because it was prepared by those small and very efficient steps for contacts and dialogue.

Q: The Czech Republic is a member of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC). What role can the Czech Republic play to promote peace and security on the Korean peninsula? …

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