Perspective of development of Korea-Azerbaijan ties is high
Military attache of the Republic of Korea in Azerbaijan, colonel-lieutenant, Mr. Lee Jeongjae gave an interview to AzeriDefence magazine.
– Azeri Defence: Korean Defence Attaché Office was established in Azerbaijan in September of last year. This, in itself, is a historic event in the military cooperation between the two countries. It is interesting to know your opinion, as the first military attaché, of the current level of cooperation and prospects of relations between the two countries.
– Lee Jeongjae: If we take a look at the relations between the two countries, establishment of the Military Attaché Office of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Korea in October of 2012, establishment of the Military Attaché Office of the Republic of Korea in Azerbaijan in August of 2015, first visit of the commander of the Naval Forces of Korea to Azerbaijan in November of 2015, the fact that Azerbaijani serviceman was sent to Korea to study for the first time in March of 2016 and other events show diligent development of the military cooperation between the two countries. Korean side is interested in further development of cooperation with Azerbaijan in national defence and defence industry; therefore I believe that cooperation between the two countries will be strengthened at the level of the Ministry of Defence in the future.
– AD: As a military attaché, which field of activity you give more importance to?
– Lee Jeongjae: Although Korea and Azerbaijan is geographically distant they share similar features. One of the similar features of the two countries is that in spite of the fact that both countries are geopolitically located between the powerful countries and were exposed to occupation throughout the history, they achieved development at the expense of the hard-working human resources. Additionally, since both countries belong to the same Altai culture and have great potential in exchange of the human resources and material resources, they can achieve joint prosperity. Especially, we have strong relations for cooperation in general diplomacy and military diplomacy. Turkey and Korea have blood brotherhood (Fraternal country) relations; Azerbaijan and Turkey are brother countries as well. As in the saying “Brother’s brother is my brother”, relations between Korea and Azerbaijan is not at the ordinary level. For this reason, Ministry of National Defence of Korea has sympathy and kinship relations towards Azerbaijan and especially interested in establishment of friendship relation with Azerbaijan. Accordingly, as a defence attaché, I am planning to carry out activities directed to the cooperation which includes mutual visits of the senior military officials of both countries. There is a proverb in Korea: “One picture is worth a thousand words”. As in this proverb emphasizing the importance of human relations, I believe that cooperation relations between our countries will contribute to the mutual experience exchange.
– AD: Are there any documents on military cooperation between the two countries: which documents are to be signed in the nearest future?
– Lee Jeongjae: Memorandum of Understanding on military cooperation between Korea and Azerbaijan was signed on December of 2013 within the official visit of Defence Minister colonel-general Zakir Hasanov to the Korea and it is not planned to sign such cooperation document in the near future. If there is a need for signing such document in the future, Korean side will act in great initiative. Ministry of National Defence of Korea in order to discuss existing problems organizes Defence Policy Talks on the basis of mutual principles with the countries they have an exchange with. Defence Policy Talks between Korea and Azerbaijan is held with participation of senior officials according to the Memorandum of Understanding on military sphere signed between the two countries. Exchange plans, education, exchange of military servicemen and other issues discussed during these Talks play an important role in establishment of large-scale defence policy.
– AD: Korea is one of the developed countries in the field of military industry. What opportunities exist for cooperation in the said field? In which specific fields?
– Lee Jeongjae: Korean Defence Industry started to develop since 1970’s and continued to grow rapidly by the establishment of Defence Industry Administration in 2006. Recently, cooperation in the field of defence industry, including meeting of the high-ranked officials and participation in defence exhibitions is carried out. Cooperation between the two countries in the field of defence industry is based not only on export and import of defence products, but also on various fields including exchange of military technics, seminar and research areas. I believe that the prospects of cooperation in this area are high.
– AD: Are products of the Korean defence companies exported to Azerbaijan? Which steps are taken to promote Korean defence products in Azerbaijan?
– Lee Jeongjae: I can say that although there is no defence industry companies operating in Azerbaijan currently, Korean companies are showing initiative in various directions in order to export defence products to Azerbaijan. In my opinion Azerbaijan is also interested in cooperation with Korea in the field of defence industry. Thus, in order to develop technical skills technical cooperation with the developed countries is important alongside with the establishment of grounds of independent national defence skills. Therefore, cooperation between the two countries in joint technical development and other fields is very important. Military Attaché office of the Embassy of Korea in Azerbaijan officially will show its support to this cooperation.
– AD: You are one of the developed countries in the field of marine industry. By this time, several Korean companies visited Baku for cooperation in naval sector. Are there results of these visits?
– Lee Jeongjae: As you have mentioned, Korea is a country that can compete in ship and shipbuilding technology in the world market. Advanced shipbuilding industry resulting from ship design and building techniques of our country, as well as resistance to the price competitiveness contributes to the development of naval equipment. Korea is the fifth country in the world to have AEGIS Combat System. I believe that it will contribute to the establishment of cooperation relations between Azerbaijan and Korea in the field of defence industry, thus cooperation between the two countries in naval defence industry will grow. I hope cooperation perspectives will be considered properly in the future.
– AD: What is your opinion of mutual participation in military exhibitions held in Korea and Azerbaijan?
– Lee Jeongjae: Aerospace and defence industry equipment for import and export are exhibited at the Defence Exhibition held in Seoul and it is high-level exhibition demonstrating current development of industry. Former Defence Minister and commander of the Air Force of Azerbaijan participated in Seoul Defence Exhibition 2013 and held meetings with Korean military officials. This year participation of Korean delegation are expected to participate in Defence Exhibition 2016 that will be held in Baku. I believe that mutual participation in defence exhibitions has a positive impact on cooperation in the field of defence industry.
– AD: Are mutual visits expected in the nearest future?
– LeeJeongjae: Mutual visits are held according to the Bilateral Military Cooperation Plan between Korea and Azerbaijan. Currently, 2016-2017 Cooperation Plan has been signed and according to this plan mutual visits of military delegations are planned. This year, Defence Policy Talks in Korea, visit of the commander of the Naval Forces of Azerbaijan to Korea on the invitation of the commander of the Naval Forces of Korea, visit of the Korean military officials to Azerbaijan within the framework of the 2nd International Defence Industry Exhibition that will be held in Baku are expected. As a result of these meetings, I believe that, experience exchange will expand and mutual understanding in the sphere of security will be achieved.
– AD: What is your opinion of the recent military operations of North Korea?
– Lee Jeongjae: North Korea is one of the most politically dangerous and unpredictable countries. Country leadership pays great attention to the nuclear development program and missile tests ignoring domestic economic difficulties. This year North Korea, despite the harsh measures of the international organizations, conducted 4th nuclear missile test and different long-range missile tests. The UN Security Council adopted new sanctions and the European Union has initiated procedures for the application of economic sanctions. China, Russia and many other countries, including the United States, adopted the United Nations sanctions against North Korea. North Korea’s nuclear test and missile tests are great threat to the world security. The Korean Ministry of National Defense hopes that Azerbaijan will pay closer attention to North Korea’s dangerous actions and will support Republic of Korea in this regard. I hope that in a short period of time North Korea will start to act as a responsible member of the international community.