TWO DAY CONFERENCE:
U.S.-China Cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative
and Corresponding Ideas in Chinese and Western Philosophy
April 13-14, 2017 — New York City
Presentation by Petr Iliichev
For a Broader Eurasian Partnership
Dennis Speed: I’d like to introduce our final speaker. We’re all aware of a particular circumstance that has erupted, and those of us who are real American patriots recognize that a great injustice is being done. We are opposed to that injustice, and we are very happy to have the next speaker here, and in our presence: He is Mr. Pyotr Ilyichov, Chargé d’Affaires of the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations. [standing ovation]
Pyotr Ilyichov: Thank you, thank you colleagues for a very warm welcome, and I am grateful for Mme. LaRouche for organizing your conference that is very pertinent for what we’re discussing. I do apologize for coming too late, but we had two meetings today at the Security Council, two major issues that are far away, but are proving that we live in a globalized world and this globalized world is moving in two directions. Sometimes we have very decent, very good consequences of globalization, sometimes we have negative effects. So today we discussed Haiti—that looks more or less on a positive trend; but again, what the President just said, that mass migration of people creates more problems, but with a geo-communitarian attention, we can try and turn this negative phenomenon into a benefit both for hosting communities, but also for those people who are traveling.
And the second issue we were discussing was Somalia and Eritrea, and you can also imagine that this is a very important topic, not only because of the plight of the Somalis that are, for more than 25 years, deprived of statehood, of truly having a nation. But they did survive, and unfortunately they are located in such a strategic position that it is being used by everybody—by Western powers, by bad guys, Al-Shabaab terrorists—but now there is a clear linkage to the Islamic State, and also there is piracy.
So we see that this globalized world requires also a globalized reaction, a globalized answer.
‘We Are Proud of China’s OBOR’
But coming back to the theme of your conference, I would like to say international economic development and cooperation nowadays are a driving force in the world that we live in. It would be true to say that one of the main objectives of each country is to develop diverse economic, scientific, and technological ties, not only between the individual countries but also between the groups of countries, and those ties, this cooperation should be based on principles of independence, equality, and mutual respect for each other’s interests.
Each country has its own strategic project, and we are proud of the initiative that our Chinese colleagues put forward. They are driving to revive the historic Silk Road, and by establishing two corridors, one on land and the other by sea, they will connect Asia via Central Asia, via the Middle East, into Europe. Indeed, this phenomenon of One Belt, One Road (OBOR) is a very promising project that will boost economic cooperation, but also will affect very positively the geostrategic situation in that region.
But in addition, my country, Russia, has been developing relations with Asia-Pacific countries. Of course, our strategic partner is China: We are developing our special relations with the People’s Republic of China. China is our biggest economic trade partner; it’s our neighbor. We have common interests, not only in the sphere of economic policies, but also other humanitarian issues like health and cultural exchanges, and we are trying to complement each other both in the political and economic dimensions.
In fact, the cooperation that we have with China, is the cooperation of strategic partnership. Lately, our economic cooperation came to a very high level—our mutual trade reached $40 billion, and the plans are for that to come to $50 billion, and we are on the way. This strategic partnership between Russia and China is not only in the political sphere—of course we are two permanent members of the UN Security Council, and we cooperate very closely in that august body—but also, we have other organizations in which we are trying to cooperate, first of all the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, but also others, like the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and like BRICS. Russia is trying to promote the harmonization of the economic formats that are there, and this harmonization should be done on principles of transparency, and of respect for each other’s interests.
A Broader Eurasian Partnership
From our side, we are trying to build the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and we apply these principles to this economic format. What we are trying to do is not to just create this new union, but also to expand its ties, expand its cooperation with other economic entities that are there, and we think that this is a good opportunity, that we can try to confer privileges, favors that the EAEU can provide with this initiative of the One Belt, One Road, which the Chinese are trying to implement. In effect, we are trying to promote a broader Eurasian partnership, so that other hubs, other formative centers in the Eurasian integration area, could be brought in together.
We are starting to implement this broader agenda. We concluded an agreement with Vietnam, between the EAEU and Vietnam, in the free trade area. Now we are in negotiations with China. So, if it’s right to align this initiative of One Belt, One Road with the Eurasian Economic Union, then that would be a huge incentive for creating not only Eurasian economic trade, but a space that will promote free relations of mutual understanding in this big, big space that we have. We are working not only with China and with Vietnam, but India is forthcoming, as is Pakistan, plus all the states that belong to the Commonwealth of Independent States.
President Putin has said that he is going to participate in the summit on One Belt, One Road that is going to be held in China in May. Today he met with the Vice Premier of the State Council of China, and promised his participation, and promised to look very attentively and very favorably at this development initiative.
So, we look to a bright future for the One Belt, One Road, and think that your initiative is very pertinent, and with our discussion we are trying to contribute to moving it forward.
Russia and the United States
Speed: Sir, among us, we are people who organize for a very specific vision of the world, and you’ve referenced it. And obviously, your nation has not been able to directly talk to the American people. You’ve talked at the United Nations; you’re talking to diplomats and others. But here, there’s a cross-section of the American people—there are people here from many different parts of the country. And since you have an opportunity, I’d just like to ask you to deliver a message to them, as to what you think they should know about Russia and what you think they should be confident in, shall we say, about the intent of Russia toward the American people.
Ilyichov: Thank you. Thank you for this very difficult question [laughter], but I would say that we should not be afraid of each other. We should talk to each other. It’s very important, and yesterday’s negotiations of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Moscow, both with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin, proved that two major powers, the two most powerful nuclear states, gain more when we are talking, but not when we are reacting and trying to build alliances and counter-alliances against each other.
Russian policy was very clear from the very beginning: We don’t want any special status in the world arena. We want equal treatment, fair treatment, not only for us, but for all other states. And if we can provide this fair treatment in all spheres, equal security, equal economic cooperation, and equal exchanges between people, we are all going to gain a lot—instead of trying to build new walls, trying to build new divides, and trying to build or rebuild or strengthen those military alliances that exist.
I don’t know if I answered your question, but I will be more than happy to develop it with others. Thank you.
Speed: Thank you.