Liberals attack Yoon’s diplomacy after Korea is not invited to G7 summit

President Yoon Suk Yeol, right, shakes hands with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni during last year's Group of 7 (G7) summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 21, 2023. (PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE)

President Yoon Suk Yeol, right, shakes hands with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni during last year’s Group of 7 (G7) summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 21, 2023. (PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE)

Korea was not invited to attend the Group of 7 (G7) summit this year, raising questions about why the country was sidelined. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Presidential Office said the lack of invitations was mainly due to the chairman country Italy’s focus on immigration issues related to Africa, stressing that this does not reflect a decline in Korea’s diplomatic influence.

“It is clear that Italy, the country chairing this year’s G7 summit, has selected the invited countries mainly on the basis of African and Mediterranean issues related to its own domestic immigration issues,” the Foreign Ministry and the presidential office Saturday in a press release. “We respect this and recognize that the countries invited to the G7 Summit each year are selected based on the agenda of interest of the country chairing.”

The G7, an intergovernmental political and economic forum of seven developed countries consisting of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan, invites additional countries to the summit each year, based on the discretion of the country with the changing chairman. Korea has been invited to the G7 summit three times since 2020.

President Yoon Suk Yeol attended last year’s G7 summit at the invitation of Japan, and former President Moon Jae-in was invited to the 2020 and 2021 summits when the United States and the United Kingdom chaired respectively. Germany, the chairman country in 2022, has not sent an invitation to Korea.

The Foreign Ministry and Presidential Office said that when France was chairman in 2011, Germany in 2015 and Italy in 2017, all invited countries were African countries. The Korean government also emphasized that cooperation with the G7 is a year-round event that involves major international issues, and not a one-time event that only takes place in the form of the summit, adding that Korea will participate in this year various G7 ministerial meetings. .

“The key to our diplomatic policy, the vision of a ‘global pivot state’, is to participate in the efforts of the international community to maintain a rules-based international order, based on core values ​​of freedom and peace,” the Korean government said.

Korea’s appointment as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, its invitation to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit for three consecutive years from 2022 to this year, its hosting of the third Summit for Democracy in March and hosting the The AI ​​Summit in May is an example of Korea’s growing presence as a global pivotal state, the government said.

However, the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) and others criticized the Foreign Ministry and Presidential Office’s defense that Korea was not invited to this year’s G7 summit, saying the Yoon government is in fact excluded from important meetings to discuss urgent international affairs, such as the war in Ukraine, the situation in the Middle East and a new Cold War on the Korean Peninsula.

“The Yoon government must abandon its biased foreign and security policies and change its policy position to pragmatic diplomacy focused on national interests,” DP spokesman Kang Sun-woo said in a briefing on Saturday. “The Yoon government’s ‘G7 plus initiative’, which promised to strengthen Korea’s international status, has become meaningless. It is devastating to see this result, even though we have strengthened solidarity with Western countries and Japan at the expense of relations with China.”

Korea has pushed for a G7 plus initiative to expand its role and responsibilities as a middle power, and has called on G7 member states to potentially upgrade the forum to a ‘G9’, including Korea and Australia.

“Now that we have not been invited to the G7 summit, seen as the club of developed countries, we have suddenly become an underdeveloped country,” said a spokesperson for the Rebuilding Korea Party, the third largest party in the 22nd National Assembly, also in a comment.

BY LIM JEONG-WON ([email protected])