N-S Korean talks: Statement by International Olympic Truce Centre

Statement of the Director of the International Olympic Truce Centre (located in Athens), Dr. Constantinos Filis, on the opening of official talks between South and North Korea regarding the latter's participation in the upcoming Winter Olympics

"We often underestimate the power of sport to bridge differences, if not to resolve them altogether. In the case of an issue as complex and difficult as that of the Korean Peninsula, which involves regional and international interests, competition between great powers, and the risk of nuclear war, the upcoming Winter Olympics provide an opportunity for South Korea and North Korea to come to the table for talks after an uneasy hiatus of about two years. They certainly won’t settle all their differences, and nor will the talks impact the development of Pyongyang’s nuclear program. But they will enable the two sides to come closer together, de-escalate the tensions between them – at least for a short time – and bear witness to the beneficial consequences of peace, as opposed to the risks involved in sustaining (any) potential for conflict.  The ‘opportunity’ of the Olympic Games may serve as a springboard for talks on thornier issues, provided the two sides show the requisite political will. Regardless of the result, we should reflect on the fact that if it weren’t for the milestone of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics this February, the South Korean-U.S. joint military exercises would not have been postponed, and nor would there have been occasion for the dialogue between Seoul and Pyongyang.”

- Dr. Constantinos Filis, Director, International Olympic Truce Centre