Any corridor that connects should be our road to peace - Address by the President of the Republic of Macedonia, His Excellency Dr. Gjorge Ivanov at the 18th Euro-Asian Economic Summit
Thursday, 09 April 2015 12:37   

sesijaDistinguished attendees,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here at the 18th Euro-Asian Economic Forum in Istanbul. I would like to thank our hosts – the Marmara Foundation for their dedication to important topics. And I believe that there is no other alternative, because we meet in an environment that inspires and motivates us to reflect on important issues in Euro-Asia.

Distinguished attendees,

We are well aware that Istanbul has an exceptionally important historic role – to be the civilizational and economic bridge for cooperation between Europe and Asia, between the West and the East. However, let us not forget that this role was not given to it by the people, but rather by geography. Geography is a scenarist and director, but also a podium on which overall human history happens. States grow and diminish, but geography in its physical sense, remains unchanged. It influences the destinies of states and peoples.

Geography determines the conditions, tempo and dynamics of communication, cooperation and exchange among people.

When people, led by their need of communication, adapt to geography, to the mountains and valleys, to the rivers and seas - then corridors emerge. Corridors, on the other hand, lead to opening space. Open space then creates people with open minds, people who respect and accept diversity. Open space is a precondition to peace and wellbeing.

Corridors are the courses of capital and globalization ideas.

The first globalization of culture and religion, economy and trade arrived via the ancient Silk Road. This historical road whose northern branch was first paved by Alexander the Great, finished here in Istanbul, known in the past as the second Rome.

This second Rome was connected to the first Rome by another road – the Via Egnatia that passed through Macedonia as well. As part of the great economic, cultural and civilizational corridor, the Silk Road and Vie Egnatia represented the main links between the East and West for centuries.

The economic and cultural benefits of this corridor were felt from the Yellow Sea to the Mediterranean, from China to the Balkans. Art, religion, philosophy, technology, languages, science, architecture and all other elements of civilization were exchanges between Europe and Asia through this very corridor.

This corridor not only created open space, but also fed it with new ideas and concepts, new knowledge and experiences. Thanks to the corridor, open space became the nursery of diversity. The corridor contributed to bringing distant ideas closer, and respecting and accepting foreigners as neighbors.

This is the reason why we can say that Istanbul is the child of geography who grew feeding itself with the fruits of the corridors. And through Istanbul, both the Balkans and Europe prospered economically and culturally.

sesija0Ladies and Gentlemen,

I often say that those who communicate are integrated. Those who do not communicate become ghettoized.

For more than 20 centuries men have been developing and expanding communication routes, adapting to the geographic reality.

However, the 20th century was the century of human rebellion against geography. Communication and economic corridors were cut with hard-to-break political borders which branched more and more, thus dividing the open space.

Interruption of dialogue and communication in the 20th century had two negative consequences.

Firstly, many centers found themselves reduced to peripheries. Natural economic flows built and developed throughout the centuries were abruptly stopped.

Industrial and technological and information revolution created a new global economy and formed a new world order featuring a planetary acceleration of capital and economic growth.

However, the absence of fundamental moral and ethical principles in part of the most powerful economic centers exposed the vulnerability of this order. The fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008 marked the beginning of the world economic and financial crisis, followed by the European credit and debt crisis. For many states and regions in Europe and the world, these seven years were the years eaten by locusts. We know that almost always, economic crises have been forerunners of conflicts.

Secondly, many open spaces became divided and ghettoized areas, possessed by fear, prejudice and xenophobia, which have not been overcome until this very moment.

The absence of communication has had its consequences on three continents.

In Asia, the ghost of barbarism awoke. Led by their fatal ideology, foreign terrorist fighters are destroying the diversity of the Middle East. They are trying to impose, forcefully and by intimidation, their somber vision of a state that is Middle Age by order and modern by the weapons in its possession.

In Africa, we are witnessing atrocious crimes committed daily by members of Boco Haram and the similar.

In the absence of dialogue, which means mutual communication, Europe is facing recidivism of its old illness – xenophobia.

The least common denominator of radical extremism and xenophobia is intolerance towards diversity. It is the same diversity that used to flourish in open space thanks to the corridors.

Instead of enjoying the benefits of civilization, science, technology, we are now witnessing the world taking a step back. Politics is wrapped in prejudice. Fear has become a major factor in creating politics. And we all know very well that there is no worse adviser than fear.

Distinguished attendees,

Today, we are again learning two important lessons:

First, that man is destined to communicate, to cooperate and exchange spiritual, intellectual and material values.

Second, that capital is like water. And we know that water never flows upwards and prefers the route of least resistance. This is especially true in our era of great challenges, in a time of accelerated global race for competitiveness.

In a time of global financial and economic crisis, it is not easy to satisfy the needs and expectations of citizens in terms of economic prosperity. Citizens measure the success of their governments by the number of foreign investments, new job posts and quality of living. Therefore, world governments have learned the importance of economy, cooperation and partnership with the business communities. States have realized the importance of regional infrastructural and energy projects.

Today, we see the Silk Road being revived. Its economic cost-efficiency is best proven by the most important moving forces of globalization – the business communities. Businessmen are the most reliable and vocal ambassadors of the globalized world.

Macedonia has accepted the challenge and stepped in this global race. Since then, we have progressed in several economic, business and investment aspects.

Through continuous reforms, we have paved the way for capital flow. We have reduced and flattened taxes; we balanced public finances with a low budget deficit, a stable foreign exchange course and low public debt. We have had long term macroeconomic stability. With the so-called Regulatory Guillotine, we cut most of the legal and administrative barriers that could appear on the way of potential investors. I believe that you are already familiar with the high assessments of Macedonian economy.

But I am convinced that the modern Silk Road will bring not only economic progress. This revived corridor will also contribute to the connection of states and economies and recreation of an open space inhabited by people with open minds. The Silk Road, just like any other corridor that connects, should be our road to peace.

Thank you.