ADDRESS of Zivadin Jovanovic at the Think Tank International conference

Activities - Press Conferences

Shenzhen, February 23rd, 2016.



Zivadin Jovanovic, President of the Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals
at the Think Tank International conference on “Belt and Road” Initiative, held on February 23rd, 2016, in Shenzhen, China

Honorable Mr. Chairman,
Dear Organizers and Hosts of the Conference,
Dear Colleges and Friends,

It is great honor for me to convey to all of you the warmest greetings and the best wishes for success of this important Conference from the members and friends of the Belgrade Forum for the World of Equals, an independent association of scholars and intellectuals established in the year 2000. I would like to sincerely congratulate our hosts - Chinese Center for Contemporary World Studies, Shenzhen Municipal Government and Fudan University for founding Silk Road Think Tank Association, for adoption of Shenzhen Declaration and for starting organized global dialogue on multidimensional project of 21st century - “Belt and Road”.
Municipality of Shenzhen symbolizes development of Peoples Republic of China as modern, open and most prosperous country in the contemporary world. Openness and highly developed connectivity of Shenzhen in trade and industry, communication, innovation, culture, tourism, sports and many other fields, is unique example which will inspire all our future efforts.

The framework for continuous cooperation, exchange of ideas and proposals among think tank organizations of “Silk Road” of 21st century is established. Now we need to keep providing the substance to fill in this framework. Connecting business to business, professionals to professionals, students to students, artists to artists, journalists to journalists, scientist to scientists and families to families is continuous common challenge.
Connectivity is a very vast area, almost without borders. The more we succeed the more fields and needs for reinforcing connectivity will be opened. Speaking about physical connectivity, I should like to mention that Serbia and China as steady and reliable partners are engaged in construction and modernization of European strategic corridor 10, in modernization of other road and railway connections, construction of bridges and thermo-electric centrals. Free zone industrial park, as joint Serb-Chinese venture is in advanced consideration. Tripartite Serbian-Hungarian-Chinese agreement has been reached on the modernization of the railway Belgrade – Budapest. This will facilitate connectivity between Mediterranean Region and Central Europe, as well as, the project of “Three seas” (Adriatic, Black and Baltic Sea).

As for people to people connectivity, in my opinion, particular attention should be devoted to connectivity to four areas. Those are: culture, education, media and youth. In all those fields there is need for short and medium term cooperation programs. Culture, practically, commands with unlimited potentials for spreading and reinforcing understanding, respect and mutual trust among peoples. It is equally encouraging and inspiring that China has decided to build Chinese Cultural Center in Belgrade. I do hope that my country, Serbia will reciprocate by opening own cultural center in Beijing, as soon as her resources permit.
Connecting youth leaders of the countries along the “Belt and Road”, attracting and involving them is, equally, logic and needed. The Project concerns their own future and own prosperity. On the other side, long term character of the Project needs continuity of the efforts, always new bridges to the future. Who needs them more than the Youth? Young educated people should be encouraged to accept implementation of the “Belt and Road” as benefiting employment, socio-economic development and quality of life – objectives which all the countries of the “Belt and Road” region strive to achieve. This approach, in medium and long term perspectives, may also protect great many young people from becoming victims of various kinds of extremism and massive migrations.
Regional, or sub regional “Belt and Road” Youth forums, seminars, workshops, or festivals may also be considered as viable forms of enhancing the interest and inclusion of young people. If there is consensus, the Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals is prepared to host first Regional 1+16 Young Leaders “Belt and Road” Forum, at the time to be agreed upon.

The theme of “Belt and Road” should be, in appropriate way, present in various levels of education. As governments have the interest of taking part in the implementation of this Project, political will and forms should not be a problem. In parallel, we should see how to improve cooperation and connectivity between academies of science and universities on all levels – researchers, professors, planners and students associations. Scholarships for studying Chinese and other languages along the “Belt and Road” should be priority.
Occasional debates in academic institutions may prove to be starting point in widening the interest and inclusion of students, postgraduates, PhD candidates in studying various aspects of the “Belt and Road” initiative. How to encourage postgraduate studies, masters and PhD’s theses on “Belt and Road” subject - is a question to give some thoughts.
How to encourage media for massive communication, especially TV networks and news agencies to pay continues attention to the Project? Connectivity among journalists’ associations, news agencies, especially, official ones, could help upgrading public attention to “Belt and Road” initiative. Would a kind of pool of news agencies be an idea to give consideration?
Contributing to socio-economic, cultural development, mutual trust among nations the “Belt and Road” Initiative will help alleviating development gap, creating new employment opportunities for youth and upgrading quality of lives making our societies more prosperous and humane.

Certain forms and fields of connectivity could be further considered within the framework of group of China and 16 central and southeastern European countries known as 1+16. This may give a space for flexibility and specific needs of the region. The Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals considers appropriate to initiate meetings of “Think tank” of China+16, as a branch of International Association which was established on February 23rd in Shenzhen. This would contribute to the flexibility, accommodation and efficiency of our joint efforts in the course of implementation of Shenzhen Declaration.

Dear Friends,

In closing, let me say that Serbia and China enjoy long tradition of friendly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation. This makes me very happy, the more so, that I had a privilege to be modestly involved in the development of relations between our two countries in the past. Therefore, our relations are neither of recent times, nor for the immediate period. Since long, the two countries have adopted strategic, long term approach based on principles, mutual trust and benefits. They cooperate intensively and openly in the implementation of the “The belt and Road”. Remarkable results have been already achieved. This trend of steady progress of our relations has been reinforced during the visit of Chinese Prime-minister Li Kechang to Serbia in 2014, when Serbia hosted Third 1+16 Summit. Last year Serbian Prime-minister Aleksandar Vucic paid a return visit to China.
We believe and work steadily for further strengthening of Serbian-Chinese friendly relations and mutual beneficial cooperation. “Belt and Road” project offers great, unprecedented opportunity for this.
Thank you.