The establishment of the Greater Tumen Initiative (GTI) within this year went up in smoke due to the ongoing tensions between South Korea and North Korea.
The GTI, which has South Korea, China, Russia and Mongolia as its members, is planned to become the first multilateral forum in Northeast Asia for economic development and cross-border cooperation in the region. It started as the Tumen River Area Development Program in 1992, supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), for the development of the region that covers Yanji, China, Cheongjin, North Korea and Vladivostok, Russia. In September 2005, the target zone was expanded to cover the three northeastern provinces of China, Rajin and Seonbong of North Korea, the Maritime Province of Russia and the East Sea of Korea.
The South Korean government was planning to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars a year until 2022 in GTI trust funds, launch economic cooperation projects in the fields of energy, transport logistics and agriculture and back up its Eurasia Initiative in conjunction with investment and development projects.
“We were planning to launch the GTI as an international organization after the conclusion of the agreement by the representatives of the four countries at the 16th general meeting scheduled for December last year in Seoul and the completion of the ratification processes in the respective countries but the meeting itself was cancelled,” the South Korean government explained, adding, “The inter-Korean tensions added fuel to the fire amid the members’ conflicting interests.”