On Tuesday, June 02, Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Ambassador Lamberto Zannier was invited by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies to host an Asan Roundtable entitled “European Experiences and Lessons for Northeast Asian Regional Security Cooperation.” President of the institute Dr. Hahm began his welcoming remarks by recognizing the importance of collective security, but lamenting the lack of it within the Northeast Asian region. Posing the question that set the tone for the following discussion, he asked Amb. Zannier: “How did Europe do it?”
Amb. Zannier began by acknowledging the long and complex process for establishing and implementing the OSCE. According to him, it took around ten years to figure out a viable system of collective security, and even after the OSCE’s establishment, full inclusiveness and engagement was not reached all at once. However, the OSCE was able to overcome internal conflict among participating states by converging their interests and setting a clear agenda of cooperation. While this agenda has transformed over the years, from international assistance during the post-Cold War after Soviet collapse to the present focus on global security, the commitment to balanced principles allows the OSCE to develop strategies that continue to promote engagement from participating states. In fact, the OSCE has legitimacy because it depends on the consent of all countries in making its decisions.
In regards to South Korea’s NAPCI initiative, Amb. Zannier stated that NAPCI is a good platform for exchange and dialogue. He predicted that more operational engagement will develop over the years. However, he also pointed out that it will remain undermined by its inability to engage with a key regional partner – North Korea. While NAPCI may be a regional political initiative with a solid vision, it will only succeed if neighboring countries endorse it and engage with it. In addition, Amb. Zannier stated that there is concrete work that can start even in the absence of this cohesiveness. Disagreement at the top does not preclude the implementation of certain bottom-up initiatives, and promoting cooperation at this level will overall help promote NAPCI. Moreover, Amb. Zannier admitted the importance of timing in managing regional cooperation. Even during the development of the OSCE, the right timing was necessary to create a sense of common community and achieve mutual integration of nations within one collective.