|Attached File 1||ITF opening address.docx Document Preview|
My name is Kim Jeong-ryeol and I am the Vice-minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of the Republic of Korea.
I am very happy to be able to meet with the ministers of Transport around the world here today at the beautiful city of Leipzig.
It is an especially great honor as Korea is the chair country of this year.
I feel humbled by the trust that you have shown us.
But on the other hand, I have high anticipations at the thought of holding various discussions and sharing a future vision over the next three days here.
ITF celebrates its 67th anniversary this year.
It is an organization with the greatest authority in the world in the transport sector and internally it deliberates on the concerns and pending issues of various countries and externally leads global transport agendas in its quest to contribute to the development of global transport policies.
Korea made ties with the ITF at the start of the new millennium in 2000 and applied the traffic accident prevention policies of different countries proposed by the ITF such as Vision Zero and slowing down in Korea.
This resulted in visible accomplishments such as last year’s deaths by traffic accidents decreasing by 10% compared to the previous year.
Furthermore, Korea became the first nation outside of Europe in 2017 to have its citizen serve as the secretary-general of the ITF.
Connecting two regions no longer means to make physical movement between two points possible.
To a girl living on an island, a bridge connecting to the mainland became an opportunity to live a ‘decent life’ by making education and medical services available.
The road that traverses high mountains that surround a town became the path that connects it to a bigger world.
This was the start of regions and countries.
The ancient Silk Road that connected the East and West allowed both sides to experience new cultures.
Furthermore, to continental countries with limited access to the seas, connecting transportation infrastructure between nations have offered new opportunities for investment and growth by expanding the economic borders and making it possible to efficiently use resources.
As such, transport infrastructure is an essential cornerstone to resolve disparities and alienations among classes, regions and countries, and for ‘inclusive growth’ for everyone to live together and grow together.
Traffic of people and movement of materials through connectivity lead to cultural interaction, exchange of values, and connection to life, and can thus lower barriers and borders, thereby enhancing mutual communication and understanding to lead toward regional stabilization and world peace.
Today’s world is changing at a fast pace due to the amazing technological developments in various sectors including information communication, artificial intelligence and biotechnology.
Transportation is no exception.
What we could hardly imagine in the past such as underwater tunnels and long-span bridges that connect continents, self-driving vehicles, personal flight mobility, etc. are now our reality. With the addition of internet technologies, the entire world is now becoming more and more ‘integrated’ and ‘mutually connected’.
Just as the physical travel distance has become shorter, the entire world is sharing growth and there is also rising psychological intimacy.
However, ‘connection’ does not always equate to ‘coexistence’.
Regional disparities can go beyond simply being ‘different’ but threaten ‘symbiosis’.
We must never forget our memories of tension and dispute where roads had in the past degenerated into a tool for exploitation and invasion.
Only ‘trust’ and ‘communication’ can be hope to mitigate such threats.
Shiono Nanami, who was famous for the book ‘Stories of the Romans’, said, “Paving roads does not simply connect spaces, but represents that somebody can come in or go out using that road.” Fear of invasion by outside forces or against change will make it impossible for roads to open.
Opening roads to somebody and connecting with each other represent ‘trust’, and it is a ‘promise’ to live together in unity.
The Korean Peninsula, which is located at the end of the far-eastern part of the Asian continent, has severed overland transportation to the rest of the continent due to political and diplomatic issues, despite being directly connected to the Eurasian continent.
The Republic of Korea is beginning its efforts to connect South and North Korea.
We dream of being connected to Eurasia.
This will be the first step to peace and coexistence.
South and North Korea held three summits to make a historical turning point by ‘pledging’ to connect railways and roads and to work together for peace and mutual prosperity.
As a result, joint investigations were conducted last year on road and railway routes, and a commencement ceremony was held for connection and modernization.
Moreover, I believe that joining the ‘Organization for Cooperation of Railways’ with the unanimous support of all member countries around the world is another step in the right direction for the yet incomplete Eurasian railway network to be connected completely, and ultimately, toward the path of world peace and prosperity.
While connection can mean trust and coexistence to one person, it can represent the exact opposite to another. Precisely this reason is why I think the ITF Summit is so important. I hope that the ITF Summit will do its role to make transportation connectivity work for trust and regional integration.