[Jun 5] Korean National Assembly Speaker visits Estonia, Spring Session of NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Greece Local Elections
PHOTO: Korean National Assembly. Speaker Moon Hee-sang (4th left) met with Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid (4th right) on May 30, 2019.
As part of an official trip to the Baltic region, Korean National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang travelled to Estonia on May 30, where he held a series of talks with Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, Speaker of the Estonian Parliament Henn Polluaas, and mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kolvart.
During the meetings, Speaker Moon talked about ways of strengthening exchange and growth-related cooperation between Estonia and the ROK. He also extended his gratitude to his Estonian counterparts for their support in the ongoing peace process, currently underway on the Korean Peninsula. He also accepted Estonian leaders’ condolences after a recent cruise ship accident in Budapest, Hungary, which left dozens of Korean tourists injured, dead or missing.
Speaker Moon met with Henn Polluaas, the President of the Riigikogu, Estonia’s parliament. As part of their meeting, the Speaker Moon noted that the ROK and Estonia have much in common, in that both have a relatively small population and have been invaded by neighboring countries on numerous occasions throughout history. However, he continued, they have both overcome their past difficulties thanks to their indomitable will, and are now both winning admiration from the rest of the world. He also added that he appreciated Estonia’s ongoing support for the peace process on the Korean Peninsula.
Speaker Polluaas noted that his country fully supports efforts to denuclearize North Korea, and that he has made his stance known both to the European Union and the United Nations. He said that should Pyongyang participate fully in the peace process, the outlook for the future would remain optimistic.
Rep. Kim Kwan-young, the president of the ROK-Estonia Parliamentary Friendship Group, noted that Koreans shared the National Assembly’s view of Estonia as an international leader in the field of IT, and held its e-government efforts in high esteem. He stated that, in order to strengthen IT cooperation and improve interpersonal exchange efforts, the National Assembly would offer its proactive support.
During his talks with Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, Speaker Moon remarked that the two countries could look to cooperate further in a variety of sectors, including e-governance, cyber security and the development of startup businesses – as the Fourth Industrial Revolution gets into full swing.
President Kaljulaid expressed her grief following the cruise ship tragedy in Hungary. She went on to say that she was glad that Speaker Moon’s visit to her country would provide the opportunity to beef up ROK-Estonia cooperation, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence. She said that concerted digital initiatives would be beneficial for both nations, and underscored the importance of cooperation in conventional arenas. She said both countries needed to work together on issues such as defense, and also suggested updating the existing Estonia-ROK free trade agreement.
The ROK and Estonia have sought to reinforce their cooperation in the world of IT. The Estonian government has been pushing ahead with far-reaching digital innovation policies, and was the first nation to issue digital ID cards. The two countries have also cooperated in the area of national defense: In 2018, Estonia agreed to import a number of ROK-made K9 self-propelled howitzers.
PHOTO: NATO PA. The Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly was held in Bratislava, Slovakia from 31 May to 3 June, 2019.
Nearly 250 delegates from 29 NATO nations and 22 associate and observer countries gathered in Slovakia to debate security implications of new communications technologies and concern over China’s growing influence, examine the looming demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) and its impact on NATO’s deterrence posture, evaluate NATO’s performance as it celebrates the 70th anniversary, and discuss effects of the European Parliamentary elections on NATO’s democratic values.
During the opening session, President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Madeleine Moon said that defense of NATO’s core values is essential. “Everyone thinks of NATO in terms of its fighting force,” Mrs. Moon told a news conference. “But if that is not backed up by our values, if that is not backed up by our belief in democracy and the rule of law and our commitment to human rights, in tackling corruption, in building strong and stable societies, we are nothing.” Politicians need to do more to protect those values, she added. “We haven’t done enough to explain those political messages […] we haven’t done enough to talk about our values.”
Martin Fedor, Head of the Slovak Delegation to NATO PA, said that this assembly signifies a returning to the basic principle and mission of NATO: “We are more and more focused on the capacity of NATO to be able to defend ourselves in terms of security in any dimension, from any corner of the world. We need to be sufficiently allied, sufficiently united to defend ourselves jointly.”
The assembly was divided into 5 committees: Defense and Security Committee, Economics and Security Committee, Science and Technology Committee, Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security, and the Political Committee.
In the first Defense and Security Committee, lawmakers unanimously supported the U.S.’ decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, with a draft report presented by Canadian Senator Joseph A. Day suggesting, “This deteriorating context, by endangering the stability of the management and manufacture of nuclear weapons, is paving the way for a potential new era of rearmament.” The Senator urged Russia to return to compliance or bear the full responsibility for the demise of the treaty. At the same time, he cautioned that NATO needs to renew debate about the correct mix of forces and negotiated arms control if INF ends. Slovakia’s State Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lukas Parizek said that NATO should work closer with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to strengthen such regimes.
Parliamentarians also urged Alliance governments to invest more in key maritime assets needed to counter growing Russian threats to security in the North Atlantic, as well as maintaining a robust program of military exercises to enhance Allied force readiness. Sir Nicholas Soames, a British MP recommended revamping military bases in strategic points around the Atlantic, reversing cuts in naval fleets that have halved the number of destroyers, frigates and submarines from Cold War levels, investing in modern maritime patrol planes, building infrastructure to facilitate troop movements across the Atlantic, and increasing spending and exercise focused on anti-submarine capabilities. A separate draft report by Portuguese legislator Lara Martinho recommended a heightened program of military exercises to boost readiness and cooperation among Allied forces, and another draft report by Leona Alleslev, a Canadian MP, went into more detail on efforts to rebuild NATO’s anti-submarine capabilities which, it said, have atrophied to dangerous levels.
In the Economics and Security Committee, members discussed divisions among members of NATO over how to regulate the digital world and AI. Helena Legarda from the Berlin-based Mercator Institute for China Studies emphasized Chinese tech giant Huawei’s link to the Chinese Communist Party; Frances Burwell from the Atlantic Council, told the Economics and Security Committee that as debate swirls over what role Huawei should play in the roll-out of next generation communications, “there is a real role for NATO as military infrastructure will be dependent on 5G.” Parliamentarians also noted North Macedonia’s reforms as a stark example of the progress that can be achieved when countries strive for membership in NATO and the EU, particularly Skopje’s efforts to guarantee fair media funding and improve the accountability of the secret police, as well as ensuring the rights of the large ethnic Albanian minority.
The Science and Technology Committee discussed state supported cyber-attacks and when a military response would be warranted under NATO’s collective defensive clause, Article 5, which deems an attack on one ally to be an attack on them all. Lastly, Lawmakers also weighed the implications of AI, with Slovenian rapporteur Matej Tonin saying that military robots “will have profound effects. It could force us to restructure our armed forces and change our operational concepts. And it could even affect the overall military balance.”
The last two Committee meetings considered German MP and General Rapporteur Ulla Schmidt’s General Report, “NATO at 70: Reaffirming the Alliance’s Values”. “If we, as Allies, do not uphold democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law, we risk undermining the trust that binds us,” Schmidt told colleagues at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. “We need to promote democratic values more proactively.” The report pointed to cyber-attacks, political extremism, fake news, election interference, and political backsliding as posing new challenges to NATO nations and Alliance solidarity. The reports recommended an update of NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept to take into account factors such as Russian belligerence, the emergence of China, and new cyber and hybrid threats, the creation of a Democratic Resiliency Coordination Centre and other new institutions within NATO to provide oversight for common values and safeguard democracy within the Alliance, and heightened measures to guard against disinformation, hate speech, and election interference.
The full programme can be accessed here: https://www.nato-pa.int/download-file?filename=sites/default/files/2019-06/Brastislava%20Spring%20Session%20-%20Draft%20Press%20Programme%2011%20-%20010619.pdf. Summaries of each meeting can be seen here: https://www.nato-pa.int/news.
PHOTO: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters. Main opposition New Democracy conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis promised tax cuts and attracting investments.
Greece’s conservative opposition New Democracy party on 2 June swept local elections, winning in nearly all regions and the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki, routing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s ruling left five weeks before they face off in general elections. New Democracy candidates have won 12 of the country’s 13 regions, said party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, according to almost complete results.
Mitsotakis is Tsipras’s main rival in the 7 July snap parliamentary elections, called after New Democracy took 33% of the vote in last month’s European elections — nine points more than the ruling Syriza party.
In Athens, Mitsotakis’s nephew, ND mayoral candidate Costas Bakoyannis, won with 65% of the vote, according to results from 99 percent of polling stations.
“Greece’s electoral map has changed in favor of the ND,” said political expert Ilias Nikolakopoulos on public television ERT.
Sunday’s vote was a second-round runoff for city mayors and regional governors. In the first round of municipal and regional elections in May, New Democracy won five of Greece’s 13 regions, while the left took just one.
Besides discontent with austerity measures and an 18% unemployment rate, observers attribute the conservative resurgence in part to a controversial renaming deal between Greece and its neighbor which is now called North Macedonia, formerly Macedonia. Backed by Tsipras and his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev, the deal ended a long-running dispute between the two countries.
The dispute dated back to North Macedonia’s independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, when it declared that it wanted to be called Macedonia over the objections of Greece, which has a northern province by the same name.
The resolution of the deal meant Athens dropped its opposition to its neighbor’s bid to join the European Union, but the agreement has been denounced by nationalists in both countries.
BY MSEAP Cyber Secretariat (email@example.com)