President Vladimir Putin Calls Belt and Road Initiative a ‘Civilization-Wide Project’

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech at the opening of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation Sunday in Beijing began with a reference to the history of the “Silk Road” connecting “great civilizations of the region … engaged in trade for centuries,” and concluded with a call for a new alliance to become “a civilization-wide project for the future of mankind.”

“The historical experience of cooperation and mutual understanding over centuries” is “just as important to us in the 21st century, when the world is facing very serious challenges and threats,” Putin said. “We have exhausted many former models and indicators of economic development. In many countries, the concept of a social state, coined in the 20th century, is now in crisis.” It is “not only unable to ensure the steady growth of people’s wealth, but can hardly maintain current levels of growth,” Russia’s President stated.

Putin attacked “protectionism and illegitimate restrictions, including how technology is supplied and distributed…” He said “Poverty, lack of financial security, and the massive gap in the level of development between countries and regions all fuel international terrorism, extremism, and illegal migration. We will not be able to tackle these challenges unless we overcome this stagnation in global development…. None of the old approaches to conflict resolution should be used to solve modern problems. We need fresh and stereotype-free ideas.”

Putin continued, “By proposing China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, President Xi Jinping has demonstrated an example of a creative approach toward fostering integration in energy, infrastructure, transport, industry, and humanitarian collaboration…. We would welcome the involvement of our European colleagues in this partnership.” Putin elaborated, “It is necessary for integration to eliminate infrastructure restriction — mainly by creating a system of modern and well-connected transport corridors,” emphasizing the need for all of the regional blocs — EAEU, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), ASEAN, the SCO — to work together to build these links.

“We expect newly established financial institutions like the New Development Bank and AIIB to offer a supporting hand to private investors, and the interaction between universities and business schools must be strengthened. My invitation remains open for joint work within major scientific centers and research projects, including the development of large international research facilities and laboratories for collective use.”

“I would like to stress,” Putin concluded, “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…. Greater Eurasia is not an abstract geopolitical arrangement, but, without exaggeration, a truly civilization-wide project looking toward the future.”

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