Posted : 2015-01-26 16:32
Updated : 2015-01-26 18:51

Seoul seeks international support for DMZ park plan

By Kim Hyo-jin

Seoul will seek international support to create an ecological park in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) during a conference in Switzerland this week.

"A Korean delegation to the standing committee meeting of the Ramsar Convention will brief international organization officials about the DMZ peace park plan to seek cooperation," said a unification ministry official Monday. "It aims to broaden international support for the project."

The 1971 Ramsar Convention is a pioneering intergovernmental treaty for conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. The 48th standing committee meeting to oversee convention affairs is taking place in Gland, Switzerland, from Jan. 26-30.

Officials of the unification and environmental ministries dispatched to the meeting are scheduled to meet the convention's Secretary General Christopher Briggs, and Director General of the World Wide Fund for Nature Marco Lambertini during the five-day visit.

"If we have a chance to encounter the North Korean delegation, we may be able to explain our DMZ park plan to them," said the official. Pyongyang is expected to send a delegation to the international gathering as an observer nation.

The government has sought global support for the project since last year, the ministry official said.

"We also appealed to foreign officials about the plan during the conference of the parties at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Pyeongchang last October, and they gave a positive response to the idea."

Cheong Wa Dae came up with the ambitious project to build a park in the DMZ in 2013 to ease military tensions there.

The DMZ was created as a buffer zone between South and North Korea based on the 1953 Korean War Armistice. The 250-kilometer-long, 4-kilometer-wide zone is the most fortified area in the world with 70 percent of troops from both Koreas stationed nearby.

As the southern part of DMZ is under the control of the United Nations Command, it is important for Seoul to gain global support for the DMZ park plan.

During an annual policy report earlier this month, the Unification Ministry reiterated the government's hope of building a park there in cooperation with the United Nations and neighboring nations.

North Korea has consistently rejected such proposals, accusing South Korea of attempting to make money from foreign tourists.

관련 한글 기사

람사르협약 회의 때 北에 DMZ평화공원 설명 추진

정부, 대표단 파견해 관련 국제기구에도 설명·협조요청

정부가 국제회의를 계기로 비무장지대(DMZ) 세계생태평화공원 조성 계획을 북측에 직접 설명하는 방안을 추진하고 있는 것으로 26일 전해졌다.

정부 당국자는 이날 '26∼30일(현지시간) 스위스 글랑에서 열리는 람사르협약 상임위원회에 통일부와 환경부 당국자 등으로 구성된 대표단을 파견해 국제기구 관계자들에게 DMZ 생태평화공원 구상을 설명하고 협조를 구할 예정'이라고 밝혔다.

정부 대표단은 크리스토퍼 브릭스 람사르협약 사무총장, 마르코 람베르티니 세계자연기금(WWF) 사무총장 등과의 면담 계획도 잡혀 있다.

특히 북한도 람사르협약 비가입국이기는 하지만 옵서버(참관인) 자격으로 이번 회의에 참석할 것으로 전해졌다.

정부 당국자는 '북한 대표단과도 접촉할 기회가 생기면 DMZ 생태평화공원 구상을 설명할 계획'이라고 말했다. 정부는 직접 설명이 여의치 않으면 국제기구를 통해 북측에 우리 구상을 설명하는 방안도 추진할 것으로 알려졌다.

DMZ는 정전협정에 따라 유엔사령부가 관할하는 곳인 만큼 국제사회의 협조가 필수적으로, 통일부는 올해 업무보고에서 유엔 및 주변국들과의 협력을 통해 DMZ 평화공원 조성을 추진하겠다고 밝힌 바 있다.

우리 정부가 지난 2013년 밝힌 DMZ 세계생태평화공원은 남북 군사 대치의 상징과도 같은 DMZ에 군사분계선(MDL)이 가운데를 지나도록 하는 공원을 조성해 평화의 공간으로 거듭나도록 만들자는 구상이다.

하지만 북한은 이 구상을 두고 '외국 관광객들을 끌어들여 돈벌이를 하겠다는 것'이라는 등의 비난을 하며 거부 의사를 밝혀 왔다. (연합뉴스)

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