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Recent developments on the Korean Peninsula clearly indicate the need for establishing a political mechanism to maintain regional security.

Northeast Asia is attracting the attention of leading powers for its economic potential and political development. On the other hand, challenges and complications facing the region are clear to the players. Finding a political solution to the problem demands more of an economic approach.

We have to acknowledge the Cold War legacy in Northeast Asia. At present, confidence-building measures among the nations in terms of scope and intensity greatly lag behind “demand.” The problem of regional security is multidimensional. Thus the approach to solving the issue will also be multidimensional and rather complex.

In this regard, we should not underestimate the role of nongovernment organizations. NGOs can become a catalyst in bringing together regional nations. The efforts of NGOs can be strengthened by integrating them under an umbrella group such as the “Northeast Asian Economic Forum,” whose mission would be to brainstorm ways of promoting economic cooperation, political stability and security in the region.

Northeast Asian economic cooperation must play an important role in confidence-building in the region. As is widely known, along with the world’s openness and globalization there is a clear international trend toward strengthening regional economic integration. A similar trend can be observed in Northeast Asia.

However, we have to admit that, so far, existing instruments of Northeast Asian economic cooperation have not fully corresponded to the scale and dynamics of the economies in the region.

We should not ignore the fact that criticism of the unsatisfactory mechanisms for economic cooperation comes from the business community of the region. Business people are more pragmatic and less bound by ideological dogma than politicians and bureaucrats. They indicate that economic interests should prevail over political considerations. Politicians should listen to such appeals from the business community.

It is time to use every possible opportunity to overcome the legacy of the Cold War in Northeast Asia. It is time to build a dynamic and harmonious mechanism of economic cooperation that will serve to foster prosperity in every nation of Northeast Asia.

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