Cyprus is ready to become an active player in the Silk Road Initiative, an action plan focusing on connectivity and cooperation among countries in Asia, Europe and Oceania, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday.
Speaking at Conference of the Asian Political Parties in Beijing, Anastasiades said China and Cyprus were long-standing, reliable friends and partners.
“We believe that Cyprus, an EU member state with a most unique geographical location, rich historical and cultural heritage, and strong experience in providing financial services, can be an active player in promoting the values of the Silk Road Initiative,” he said.
“In this respect, we stand ready to cooperate closely with our Chinese, Asian and European partners in effectively supporting this Initiative.
Anastasiades said the initiative ‘New View of the Silk Road: Action for Common Development’ was a matter that concerns all as it is focuses on connectivity and cooperation among countries in Asia, Europe and Oceania, “and stresses the significant role of the economy and the way it affects our future within the prevailing regional and international environment”.
He said his presence at the conference had additional significance because he was the only head of state from the European Union invited to participate in the conference.
“I feel particularly obliged… for this unique opportunity to highlight the special and important role that European countries can play in the Silk Road initiative,” he said.
Anastasiades said his presence in Beijing also coincided with the 66th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
“The world has come a long way since 1945, when the catastrophic Second World War came to an end. China is among those who suffered greatly during that war. Since then, China has succeeded in evolving into one of the world’s largest economies and become a global player,” the president said.
Today, in the midst of a weak recovery of the global economy, as well as complex international and regional developments, China was leading the ‘One Belt and One Road’ initiative, with the aim of promoting regional economic cooperation, strengthening exchanges and mutual learning between different civilisations, and promoting world peace and development.
The One Belt One Road Initiative, based on the re-inauguration of the ancient routes that connected Asia and Europe 2,000 years ago, aims to create socio-economic development as well as conditions for better education and sustainable environment along the route.
The plan involves more than 60 countries representing a third of the world’s total economy. It aims to enhance the cooperation on trade and investment fields and in the fields of technology and innovation by establishing rail networks, transport facilities and maritime infrastructure.
“The Silk Road Initiative, quite ambitious as it is, covers a geographical region that stretches from East Asia to Europe, seeking to create a mutually beneficial framework, connecting the vibrant East Asia economic circle at one end and the European economic circle at the other,” said Anastasiades.
“This will create a win-win situation for all countries involved –countries with different political, socio-economic and cultural background- promoting peace and economic development. Above all, it entails the practical application of connectivity.”
He said that in view of the fact that EU and China enjoyed one of the world’s biggest and most dynamic trade relationships, Europe stood to benefit greatly from the Belt and Road initiatives.
As part of the “One Belt, One Road” development strategy, the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB), an international financial institution focused on supporting infrastructure construction in the Asia-Pacific region had been created. Anastasiades said the fact that 57 countries applied to join the AIIB as founding members showed its importance.
“In this regard, Cyprus, recognising the importance and the scope of this initiative, has already applied to become a regional member of the Bank,” he said. “Cyprus welcomes any initiative that promotes cooperation, progress, peace and stability, and we express our readiness to contribute to this end”.
The island, he said, with the third largest shipping fleet within the European Union and over 12 per cent of the total fleet of the 28 EU member states, coupled with its geographical location was a key transit island of the Silk Road Maritime Trade Routes.
“Every day, vessels flying the Cypriot flag are connecting Asia and Europe in a continuous process of promoting Asia-Europe cooperation. Cyprus is indeed a credible international business centre,” he added.