Pashinyan Calls for Regional Peace, Open Borders at Tbilisi Silk Road Forum
Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan, in his speech today at the Silk Road International Forum in Tbilisi, presented his administration’s Crossroads of Peace project that envisages achieving peace in the South Caucasus and the greater region through open borders and where the countries are linked via roads, railways, pipelines and electricity grids.
Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Montenegro Dritan Abazović, Prime Minister of Azerbaijan Ali Asadov and other high-ranking officials from sixty countries and representatives of international organizations attended the forum.
The forum’s key topics for discussion will include - new architecture of the East-West Trade, increasing role of the Middle Corridor, digital connectivity, diversification in the energy sector, tourism sustainability, and diversified investments for resilient future.
Here’s an official transcript of Pashinyan’s speech.
It is a great honor for me to participate in the Tbilisi "Silk Road" conference, which is being held for the fourth time, and to be part of this important discussion. I would like to express my gratitude to the Government of Georgia and personally to Prime Minister Garibashvili for the important initiative to hold this conference and for the warm hospitality.
We all know the phrase "Silk Road" from school textbooks. Many people, I am sure, do not remember many details about the historical holes and events of the Silk Road times. But the historical term "Silk Road" is associated in all of our minds with prosperity, peace, development, cooperation, because the Silk Road crossed through many countries and settlements, and these roads were used to create human, cultural, economic and political ties, were a means for the peoples and the countries to better know one another.
People transported not only goods through those roads, but also stories, customs, traditions, knowledge, skills. The road connects not only countries and cities, but also people, and hence, while a vibrant, active road is a sign of cooperation, peace, and success, then closed roads are an indication of problems.
We know this through our own example. Our roads are open with two of our four neighbors, which indicates that our relationships with them are friendly. Our roads are closed with two of our neighbors, The roads with two of our neighbors are closed, which clearly tells of existing difficulties in the relationships. But I did not come today to talk about our difficult relations, rather I am here to say that without roads it will be very difficult to build peace.
Obviously, our region, the South Caucasus, needs peace. And what is peace? It is a state of affairs where countries live with open borders, are connected by active economic, political, and cultural ties, with accumulated experience and tradition of solving all issues diplomatically and through dialogue. This is what real peace is; and as you see, all of that, i.e., open borders, economic, political, and cultural ties are impossible without roads.
This is the reason why our government developed and presents the "Crossroads of Peace" project as an important part of the peace agenda. The key essence of that project is the development of communications between Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and the Islamic Republic of Iran by means of renovating, building, and operating roads, railways, pipelines, cables, and electricity lines.
The railways passing through the south and north of Armenia have not been functioning regionally for thirty years, nor are many highways connecting the east and the west, while the reactivation of these roads would become a short and efficient route connecting the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean, both by rail and road.
Along the same lines, these rail and automotive communications could become an efficient route linking the Gulf with the Georgian ports on the South-Eastern shores of the Black Sea. Such a project would bring enormous benefits to all countries of our region, and I wish to invite the attention of governments and private investors to this opportunity.
After the speech, during the event, representatives of my team will distribute brochures about our project to the participants of the conference, and we will be happy to hear feedback and receive support on the way to the implementation of the project.
To be complete, I consider it important to emphasize the principles of "Crossroads of Peace", which are as follows.