Russia's President Vladimir Putin spoke at the opening of the One Belt, One Road international forum in Beijing on Sunday. The two-day summit will focus on China's Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
In his address, Putin welcomed China’s One Belt, One Road initiative and stressed that Russia is committed to working with its regional partners to forge a new "political and economic landscape of the continent and bring peace, stability, prosperity and a new quality of life to Eurasia ... Greater Eurasia is not an abstract geopolitical arrangement but, without exaggeration, a truly civilisation-wide project looking toward the future".
Highlights from his speech:
Let us not forget about those threats that stem from regional conflicts. Areas of smouldering disagreements still exist across Eurasia. In order to eliminate those conflicts, first of all, we need to abandon hostile rhetoric, mutual accusations and rebukes that only aggravate the situation. Altogether, none of the old approaches to conflict resolution should be used to solve modern problems. We need fresh and stereotype-free ideas.
I believe Eurasia can work out and propose a constructive and positive agenda on issues relating to security, improving relations between states, economic development, social change, better administration and the search for new forces capable of driving growth.
For the global community, we must be an example of a collective, innovative and constructive future based on justice, equality and respect for national sovereignty, international law and the unwavering principles of the United Nations.
However, desire and will alone are not enough to follow through on this agenda. Efficient tools for this type of cooperation are required. These can be created through integration. Today there are many thriving integration projects in Eurasia. We support them and are vested in their further development.
Many are aware of the fact that Russia and its partners are building the Eurasian Economic Union. The parties of the EAEU have similar views on Eurasian integration and it is very important to us that the leaders of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are participating in this forum.
We welcome China’s One Belt, One Road initiative. By proposing this initiative, President Xi Jinping has demonstrated an example of a creative approach toward fostering integration in energy, infrastructure, transport, industry and humanitarian collaboration, about which I have just talked at length.
I believe that by adding together the potential of all the integration formats like the EAEU, the OBOR, the SCO and the ASEAN, we can build the foundation for a larger Eurasian partnership. This is the approach that, we believe, should be applied to the agenda proposed today by the People’s Republic of China.
We would welcome the involvement of our European colleagues from the EU states in this partnership. This would make it truly concordant, balanced and all encompassing, and will allow us to realise a unique opportunity to create a common cooperation framework from the Atlantic to the Pacific – for the first time in history.
It is necessary that already today, we start acting upon the development strategy of the large Eurasian partnership. Thus, we can set an ambitious goal of making the flow of goods across as expedient, convenient and unhindered as possible. Just now, in his address, President Xi Jinping spoke about lifting bureaucratic barriers for trade flows between China and Kazakhstan. We can see it happening along other routes.
Additionally, I would like to stress that Russia is not only willing to be a reliable trading partner but also seeks to invest in the creation of joint ventures and new production capacities in partnering states, to invest in industrial facilities, sales and services.
Furthermore, it is necessary to eliminate infrastructure restrictions for integration – mainly by creating a system of modern and well-connected transport corridors. Russia with its unique geographic location is willing to engage in this joint activity.
We are consistently upgrading our maritime, railway and road infrastructure, expanding the capacity of the Baikal-Amur Mainline and the Trans-Siberian Railway, investing significant resources into improvements to the Northeast Passage in order for it to become a global competitive transport artery.
If we look at the bigger picture, the infrastructure projects within the EAEU and the One Belt, One Road initiative in conjunction with the Northeast Passage can completely reconfigure transportation on the Eurasian continent, which is the key to exploring new territory and intensifying economic and investment activity. Let us pave these roads to development and prosperity together.
We expect newly established financial institutions like New Development Bank (BRICS Development Bank) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to offer a supporting hand to private investors. And of course, quality integration is only possible with the support of strong human capital, qualified professionals, advanced technology and research.
On a final note, I would like to stress that Russia does not simply view the future of the Eurasian partnership as the mere establishment of new ties between states and economies. This partnership must shift the political and economic landscape of the continent and bring peace, stability, prosperity and a new quality of life to Eurasia.
Understandably our citizens need security, confidence in the future and the opportunity to be productive and improve the wealth and well-being of their families. It is our common duty and responsibility to ensure they have these opportunities.
In this respect, the greater Eurasia is not an abstract geopolitical arrangement but, without exaggeration, a truly civilisation-wide project looking toward the future.