[Interview] EU members states not very interested in sanctions against North Korea

Posted on : 2018-11-25 13:12 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Professor Ramon Pardo of King’s College London explains the shifting mood in Europe regarding N. Korea
Professor Ramon Pacheco Pardo of King’s College London talks with reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul on Nov. 23.
Professor Ramon Pacheco Pardo of King’s College London talks with reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul on Nov. 23.

“Speaking in terms of simple numbers, a majority of EU member states aren’t very interested in implementing sanctions [against North Korea]. Considering that the leaders of North Korea and the US have met now, some member states have been raising questions about why they have to put effort into implementing sanctions and why the sanctions need to be maintained.”

On Nov. 23, Ramon Pacheco Pardo, a professor at King’s College London, met with reporters at the main office of South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul’s Jongno District and told them how the mood in Europe is shifting in response to developments on the Korean Peninsula. In contrast with the US, which is still stressing sanctions on the North, some members of the EU are losing interest in sanctions and starting to talk about incentives for dialogue with North Korea, such as humanitarian aid.

Spanish-born Pardo is an expert on Korean Peninsula affairs who works in Europe as the KF-VUB Korea Chair at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, with funding from the Korea Foundation.

Pardo said that while leading EU countries such as Germany and France maintain that lifting sanctions on North Korea cannot be discussed until after the North’s complete denuclearization, the full implementation of the sanctions is another matter. “There are quite a few North Korean workers in Poland, even though that’s a violation of sanctions” according to UN Security Council resolutions, Pardo said by way of example.

“This is something that all member states are aware of, but none of them say anything about it,” Pardo said. He added that even Spain and Italy, which expelled North Korea’s ambassadors in the fall of 2017, are considering the reversal of that step.

Pardo explained that when Stephen Biegun, the US State Department’s special representative for North Korea, was discussing sanctions on the North with EU countries during his tour of Europe last month, EU countries were asking how the EU could incentivize North Korea to move toward denuclearization. “Humanitarian aid and exceptions [to sanctions] were brought up.”

Paro also cited the example of European companies taking industrial tours in North Korea. “What I’ve heard is that European bureaucrats haven’t been telling companies they can’t go to North Korea because of the sanctions. When Myanmar opened up, European companies were too slow, and they learned their lesson from that,” Pardo said.

Pardo explained that the EU is also interested in providing assistance on the issue of North Korea and its nuclear program in the future. He added that Sweden, which had made a bid to host the first North Korea-US summit, is now earnestly pushing to be the site of the second summit. Pardo also predicted that the countries of Eastern Europe could take advantage of their experience with adopting a new system to give North Korea economic support to become a member of the international community. And though the topic isn’t being openly discussed yet, he said that European countries could also help with the peaceful applications of nuclear power at a later stage of North Korea’s denuclearization.

As a long-time scholar of North Korean issues, Pardo said he believes that the North Korean leadership has changed its stance in its negotiations with the US and added that bureaucrats in EU states who work in areas related to North Korean share his opinion.

By Kim Ji-eun, staff reporter

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