A conference of German ambassadors in Eurasia took place at the Federal Foreign Office on 22 and 23 June. The conference focused on the expansion of regional cooperation. China’s Silk Road Initiative was also on the agenda.
Cooperation in Eurasia
“Eurasian connectivity” – this was the motto of the meeting of 25 heads of German missions from a region covering China, Iran, the Baltic states and the Balkans, which was held on Thursday (22 June) to discuss stronger cooperation in Eurasia.
Not only German embassies in the region want to work together more closely in future. With its New Silk Road Initiative – also known as the One Belt, One Road Initiative – China, too, is seeking greater cooperation in Eurasia. The initiative is an extensive political and economic programme in the region. China is moving closer to Europe through large-scale investment in the field of transport and connectivity. Offers of economic cooperation are being made in particular to Central and Eastern Europe, as well as to the states in Central Asia and the Caucasus.
Safeguarding free trade, complying with social and environmental norms
“The area covered by China’s Silk Road is just as momentously important to us Europeans as it is to China”, said State Secretary Markus Ederer at the opening of the conference – the German response to the Chinese initiative was therefore a key issue at the meeting.
In the course of the two-day debate with representatives of the European External Action Service (EAD), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) as well as representatives from the academic world and the business community, it was agreed that China’s integration efforts in Eurasia should be followed with interest but, at the same time, critically. In Germany’s view, the guarantee of free trade and compliance with global social and environmental norms are of particular importance. Coordination within Europe on issues related to Eurasian connectivity and cooperation in and with the Central Asian region are also necessary.