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President Lee, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you for this opportunity to meet with you today and to share some thoughts and ideas on Europe and Asia in a globalised world. I am honoured to have been invited to the highly respected Seoul National University.
This is my first visit to Korea and even though I only arrived yesterday I am already impressed by your country. Dynamic Korea is not only a logo. That is what actually meets one as a guest in your country.
Korea’s achievements are impressive and renowned. Economically, culturally and politically. You rose from the destruction after the Korean War to create your modern, globalised economy – and to establish a thriving democracy in Asia.
Korea as well as Denmark has gained from globalisation. But both our societies are also struggling with the question of how to benefit the most from globalisation. Without giving up what is special about our countries and without destroying the social fabric of our countries. In other words we want to secure a globalisation with a Human Face.
Globalisation has already had an enormous impact on the way we live and we must all prepare ourselves for the new challenges and opportunities. The free flow of people, commodities, ideas and information will enrich those societies and people who are able to cope with it. And it will leave behind those societies which are unable – or unwilling – to do so.
Globalisation is not, in my view, about creating homogeneity. Each country has its unique history, tradition and social development. These particularities will not disappear but rather become more important in a globalised world as our own particular brand.
Like Korea, Denmark has a good point of departure for the challenges of globalisation. In Denmark globalisation is mainly viewed as something positive which provides opportunities.
Let me briefly outline some characteristics about Danish society in order to explain our approach to the challenges of globalisation.
Firstly, our society is based on the fundamental values of freedom, tolerance, democracy and rule of law.
But what is particular about Denmark? According to an American scholar, Steven M. Borish, who studied the peculiarity of our society the answer is: Niels Frederik Severin Grundtvig.
Grundtvig was a clergyman, a politician, a history writer and the author of more that 1.000 songs and hymns. And very importantly, he was the founding father of the Danish folk high school tradition dating back to 1844. I know that many Koreans have studied at the Danish folk high schools.
Grundtvig stressed freedom and development for all, high and low through free education. Following his thinking, Denmark developed into a society with a strong social cohesion. Or in the words of Grundtvig where “few have too much and fewer too little”. Cohesion is still a key element in our globalisation strategy. We are eager to avoid a situation, where people fall by the wayside.
Secondly, we are an open and trade-oriented economy. Therefore, we have felt globalisation very strongly, but our companies have been used to strong competition for a long time. Thirdly, we have a strong welfare system, gender equality and family policies that make it possible to combine work and family life and ensure active and continuous female participation in the workforce.
Finally, we have a unique combination of a flexible labour market and social security, which makes the economy very adaptable. Basically, flexicurity consists of three elements: - A flexible labour market with easy access to both hiring and firing. - A high level of social security, which ensures that no one is left outside. - And an active labour market policy.
Generally, people are not afraid to change jobs and the qualifications of the work force generally meet the demands of employers. In one year one third of the labour force starts in a new job. And employers are not afraid to take on more people when necessary.
These four trends in Danish society are key explanations why Denmark today has one of the strongest economies in Europe. And we would like to keep it that way.
The Danish Government launched this year an ambitious strategy for Denmark in the global economy. The strategy was prepared by a Globalisation Council which was set up in April 2005.
In line with the Danish tradition for dialogue and cooperation between different groups in society, the Council consisted of high level representatives from trade unions, industrial organisations, companies, and the education and research community. The Council also benefited from contributions from experts outside Denmark.
The overall goal of the strategy is to make Denmark the world’s most competitive society by 2015.
On a global scale Denmark already ranks high on economic growth, competitiveness, and productivity.
My ambition is to keep Denmark’s position as one of the world’s richest countries while maintaining the social fabric of our society.
The price of globalisation must not be a fragmented society. The Danish Model with is combination of competitive power and strong social cohesion should be kept.
The globalisation strategy contains 350 specific initiatives, which together entail extensive reforms of education and training, research and entrepreneurship as well as substantial improvements in the framework conditions for growth and innovation in all areas of society.
We have distributed a folder on the strategy in a Korean version so you can read more about it.
Globalisation also strengthens bilateral relations. The relations between Korea and Denmark comprise a broad range of areas. Korean mobile phones facilitate communication for many in Denmark. Korean children are being stimulated by toys made in Denmark. Danish shipping companies bring Korean goods like the newest standard in plasma screens to consumers all over the world. And there are many more examples.
We also see our mutual competences in the business delegation, which I bring with me to Korea in the fields of mobile technology and renewable energy. Sectors where both countries have a lot to offer. And where cooperation can be expanded.
In the cultural field we both have seen a surge of mutual interest in the movies of our countries. National cinema traditions do not have to wither away in a globalised world. Both ‘the Korean wave’ and ‘Danish Dogme’ movies have endowed us with new distinctive visual stories.
The 21st Century is often called the Asian century. And Denmark wants to continue to be plugged into the impressive growth in Northeast Asia. But the relations between Europe and Asia should not be limited to economic cooperation. We face similar challenges from globalisation – challenges we can and must face through cooperation: Politically, economically, culturally, and educationally.
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) provides the framework for this. The latest summit in Helsinki confirmed this. In the economic sphere we need to look at ways to combine growth with a clean environment.
Therefore, I am pleased that Denmark will host the ASEM environmental ministers’ meeting in Copenhagen in March 2007.
In the political realm, I also see a scope for enhanced cooperation. EU and Denmark strongly support further regional integration in Asia. If we are to counter the dark forces of globalisation like terrorism and weapons of mass destruction we need strong international institutions. We also supported your Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon to become UN Secretary-General. We believe this is a good choice for the UN and for the world.
Both Korea and Denmark are firm believers in the value of the multilateral systems and rule-based international cooperation. The international community must work together to find a peaceful solution to the situation in North Korea. I hope that the Six Party talks will pave the way for such a solution. I understand the very special and high stake the Republic of Korea has in a peaceful resolution. This conflict is the last remaining division of the Cold War. I witnessed it first-hand at the demilitarised zone today.
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I have explained about the Danish approach to globalisation and the fundamentals of our society.
I think we can be mutually inspired by our approaches to globalisation. If we want to stay at the forefront, we have to learn and be inspired. And afterwards to make the right choices. I really look forward to discussing with you. Thank you.