President Lee: Door for Inter-Korean Dialogue Still Open
But he warns the North that any provocation will not be tolerated; calls for deeds, not words
President Lee Myung-bak delivers his New Year's address televised live across the nation. He stressed that North Korea must work toward peace and cooperation not only through words, but also with deeds. -countesy of Cheong Wa Bae
President Lee Myung-bak said the door for inter-Korean dialogue is still open, but North Korea must work toward peace and cooperation not only through words, but also with deeds.
Lee said in his New Year's address, televised live across the nation on Jan. 3, "I remind the North that the path toward peace is yet open. The door for dialogue is still open. If the North exhibits sincerity, we have both the will and the plan to dramatically enhance economic cooperation together with the international community.
"The North Korea's shelling of Yeonpyeong Island also served as an opportunity for us to reflect on our security readiness and overhaul our defense posture. As the safety and security of the Korean people is absolute, there can never be any delay in establishing security measures. We should stand together as one on the issue of national security. We must not forget that the best possible security measure is a people united.
"The North must come to the realization that nothing can be gained through military adventurism. They cannot speak of peace and solidarity among Korean people while shelling civilians and threatening fellow compatriots with nuclear attacks.
"North Korea must accommodate the aspirations of all Koreans and the demand of the international community for peace and prosperity. Nuclear weapons and military adventurism must be discarded. The North must work toward peace and cooperation not only with rhetoric, but also with deeds." He stressed that the important pillars in state affairs for this year are security and the economy.
President Lee said, "This year, our goals in running the economy are high with economic growth of over 5 percent, inflation of under 3 percent and the creation of decent jobs and improvement in the quality of life of middle- and low-income families."He added, "Though conditions are difficult, we will work hard so that the economy will be able to grow by at least 5 percent this year following the 6 percent growth last year.
"In particular, science and technology will be considered the basic platform for the country" take-off toward an advanced country. This cannot be achieved without the development of our original technology. The government will strengthen its support for science, technology and engineering sectors to achieve such a goal. Under the overall purpose of enhancing our growth potential and future competitiveness, we will increase our investment in R&D. The Presidential Council for Science and Technology will play a pivotal role in such endeavors.
"Government efforts will be geared toward creating jobs that meet various needs, including firmly establishing a system of quality part-time jobs, thereby easing difficulties in landing a job,"he said.
ENHANCEMENT OF THE QUALITY OF LIFE ¡ª
"This year, the budget earmarked for welfare is the greatest in our history. In drawing up the budget plan, top priority has been given to three major tasks aimed at giving hope to low-income families. The government will shoulder all the expenses for nursery care for low- and middle-income families, thereby making sure that women can work without feeling a burden in finding proper care for their babies. The nursery expenses for multicultural families will be also covered in whole by the government,"he said.
"In particular, the FTA with the United States will mark both a symbolic and actual occasion to turn Korea into an international trading hub nation. The automobile industry welcomes speedy ratification of the bilateral agreement. The treaty also gives the country further benefit in the form of a strengthened Korea-U.S. alliance, as well as economic advancement.
"Indiscriminately dispensing financial benefits with a limited state budget to win the favor of the public is not a solution. As many examples in other nations demonstrate, welfare populism results in budget crises, thus threatening the future of the nation as well as the welfare system itself. Giving financial aid to those who do not need any kind of help prevents such assistance flowing into the hands of those in desperate need, which does not fit the ideals espoused by a fair society,"he said.
BUILDING A WORLD-CLASS NATION ¡ª
"At last year's G20 Seoul Summit, Korea proactively proposed a development agenda conducive to helping developing countries escape from poverty and achieve economic growth. This was met with positive responses from all countries. Leaders of African nations firmly shook my hand and expressed their appreciation,"Lee said.
"In order to become a Global Korea, the nation needs to be mature in internal matters as well. A fair society is a precondition to this end. We have to strive to be fair in all facets of national life,"he said. "This year, the government will see to it that important policy tasks for the realization of a fair society are carried out without wavering in all matters, including trading practices, law enforcement, human rights and taxation as well as labor-management relations,"he said. nw