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The Schiller Institute Conference Panel IV
Economic and Political Potentials of the Belt and Road Initiative

Printable version / Version imprimable

SI—Elke Fimmen (10:54) of the Schiller Institute opened the discussion with a presentation on “A New Blueprint for the Future – How Eastern and South Eastern Europe Can Participate in Creating a New Global Economic Miracle”. She called on Western European nations to do their homework and realize that only by cooperating with China’s Silk Road Project, with Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union, can long term prosperity, stability and peace be achieved. The true wealth of nations, she stressed, lies in the development of the creativity of their population. She then reported on the achievements made in the context of the “16+1” cooperation between China and the Central and Eastern European countries, as examples for what can be done.

The “New Paradigm from the View of the Balkans” was the theme taken up by Prof. Ivo Christov (25:48), a member of the Bulgarian Parliament. Starting with the geopolitical axiomatic statement that “Geography is a Destiny”, he pointed to the important position of the Balkans region with its interesting history, economy and culture, as a gateway to Europe, both for the land routes and the sea routes of the New Silk Road. It is also a meeting point for interests of the U.S., Russia, Turkey and China, he said. In conclusion, he stressed the importance of the Balkans for change.

Prominent German economist Folker Hellmeyer (46:34) spoke about “The Options for Integration of the Eurasian Customs and Economic Union and China’s OBOR Initiative”. He noted “the tremendous rise” of Asian countries over the past decades, which is unparalleled in history. The Eurasian continent no longer accepts the supremacy of the old industrial nations, he said, which are faced with “aging, political fatigue and debt”, contrary to most Asian countries. The latter are setting up their own alternative institutions, such as AIIB, the New Development Bank, or the CIPS as a counterpart to SWIFT. Hellmeyer showed that the Eurasian Customs and Economic Union (EAEU) is the most obvious partner or bridge for bringing Europe into cooperation with the One Belt, One Road program.

Prof. Duško Dimitrijević (1:10:36), a Fellow at the Institute of International Politics and Economics in Belgrade, Serbia, went into “China’s New Silk Road: The Opportunity for Peaceful World Development”. The Belt & Road-strategy offers to bring wealth to other nations, as opposed to geopolitical fragmentation. China is developing friendship relations with developing nations such as Serbia, a small landlocked, militarily neutral country, and their for economic cooperation has been upgraded several times. In 2016, President Xi visited Serbia and signed 20 cooperation agreements.

Hans von Helldorff (1:36:45), Spokesman for the Federal Association of the German Silk Road Initiative, addressed the “Necessary Regulatory Framework for Investments of German and European SME Economy in National Economies along the New Silk Road”. After describing the BRI as a peace policy of huge dimensions, he regretted that it is viewed with such skepticism in Germany. He pointed to the sanctions against Russia as just one example of the policy which penalizes Germany’s small and medium companies so harshly. The German government, in his view, needs to support the Mittelstand in its activities in Eurasia and China, by providing a clear regulatory framework, a safety net for claims compensation, as well as export financing.

Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos (1:57:55), a former Ambassador of Greece, and a former Secretary General of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (BSEC), spoke about the “Integration Of The Eurasian Continent.” He stressed the important effects positive economic projects have on bringing former political adversaries together to work for a common project. The project known as the Black Sea Ring Highway, for example, would unite the members of BSEC and facilitate road transport from the Black Sea countries to Europe.

The second point he made, is that the EU is vehemently opposed to real economic development, as the bureaucrats have lost touch with the population and are only interested in saving the banks. He argued quite forcefully that the EU should be eliminated so that nations could work bilaterally to establish economic relations free from the restrictions from Brussels. In that context, he cited the case of Hungary, which had been working with China on high-speed rail and was stopped by the EU.

A video prestation was made to the conference by Professor Nuraly Bekturganov (2:16:14), Vice President of Academy of Natural Sciences of Kazakhstan, on “the Eurasian Canal and the New Silk Road.” This project, discussed in detail by both Kazakhstan President Nazurbayev and Russian President Putin, would allow large ships transporting freight up of 100 tons dwt to go directly from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea, and from there to the Mediterranean, and on to access to the ocean. It would greatly enhance shipping throughout Eurasia.

The conference was rounded out by a 90 minute open discussion among the speakers and participants on a wide range of issues (2:33:25). Helga Zepp-LaRouche concluded the conference, by pointing to a fundamental difference in values currently between the West and China: in Europe, financial speculation is rampant, while poverty is rising, whereas the Chinese leadership is commited to eliminating poverty, not only domestically but abroad as well, and their thinking is based on Confucianism.

The closest equivalent to Confucius in the West, Zepp-LaRouche has argued, is Friedrich Schiller. Confucius and classical Indian philosophy strive to educate emotions to not be able to have evil thoughts, just as Schiller did, in particular in his Aesthetical Letters. We have studied how the Renaissance was able to bring the world out of the Dark Age, with the help of great ideas, great art, and great science. We can do it again today. “We should be happy. We are living in a time when we can change things. Join us! It’s a lot of fun!,” she concluded.