No more EU funds for North Korea until the country reforms
by Anna Rosbach
North Korean leaders are completely isolated - but, still, they refuse to listen to the international community - writes MEP
The change in the North Korean leadership has apparently not made much difference. Between April 12th and 14th, North Korea will launch a new rocket that will carry a weather satellite - on the 100th anniversary of the country's founder Kim Il-Sung's birth. That is at least the official explanation. The real explanation, however, is that North Korea has started to flex its muscles. Namely, its nuclear muscles. At the moment, the country has no long-range missiles to carry its nuclear weapons. But it wishes to change that.
The new rocket could eventually be used to launch nuclear weapons at North Korea's neighbours. The United States, Japan and South Korea are therefore very concerned and the European Union should be as well. Russia has also condemned the launch and China has urged the country to drop the plans. Now, North Korean leaders are completely isolated. But, still, they refuse to listen to the international community. The launch is a giant step in the wrong direction and yet another obstacle on the way to regional peace.
North Korea has responded with its usual aggressive rhetoric, stating that any attempt to stop the launch will be meet with a military response. Unfortunately, the military leaders have not used the change in political leadership to change their approach to international relations. This is not only damaging for the peace process, but also a bad sign for the North Korean population.
The EU must take action. One way to influence the country is by financial means. The US has already withdrawn aid and Europe should do the same. I suggested that the EU immediately stops all funding and aid to North Korea, including food aid. For the time being, all help the country receives is put towards celebrating the 100th anniversary instead of helping the starving population.
The European Parliament's delegation for the peninsula made a visit to North Korean last October. It was my clear impression from the visit, that there were social forces in the country that are struggling to open up to the rest of the world. Small-scale markets and innovators stand ready to make investments and create economic growth, if only they were given the opportunity.
The EU should be ready to invest and to support the progressive forces. But the current actions of the North Korean leaders make this impossible. As long as the country insists on playing the military game instead of the developing game, there is not much hope for progress and stability. It is time for EU to follow America and declare that any future support for North Korea will depend on the country's willingness to support peace, stability and human rights. We are ready to help and support the country, but North Korean leaders must be ready to accept the conditions laid down by the international community.
Anna Rosbach is a Danish independent MEP and vice-chairwoman of the European Parliament's delegation for the Korean Peninsula