The 24th edition of the Eurasian Economic Forum took place between July 8th-9th, 2021 and was organized by the Marmara Foundation Group from Turkey, one of the traditional partners of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization.
The topic of this year’s event was “The New World Order after the Coronavirus” under the motto ”Humanity Deserves Better”, and its sections debated several themes such as : new beginnings in cultural and social life, the role of energy in building the future of humanity, the reinvigoration of the ”Belt and Road” project through negotiation, the strengths and vulnerabilities of humanity in its fight against the pandemic and global warming and climate change management.
President Emil Constantinescu participated in the ”Contemporary Sagacious People” panel dedicated to the management of changes resulting from global warming and came up with an ingenious idea. Thus, the post pandemic world reinvigoration can be done through a controlled resource management, and especially a management of rare resources, in the form of ”the geology of resources”. An adequate resource management is likely to have a positive impact on the environment and implicitly on the climate altogether.
The ”Contemporary Sagacious People” panel featured along President Emil Constantinescu also: Abdullah Gül, President of Turkey (2007-2014), Bujar Nishani, President of Albania (2012-2017), Marinko Cavara, President of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mladen Ivanić, former President of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina (2014-2018), Petăr Stoyanov, President of Bulgaria (1997-2002), Filip Vujanovic, President of Montenegro (2006-2018), Stjepan Mesić, President of Croatia (2000-2010), Ivo Josipović, President of Croatia (2010-2015), Gjorge Ivanov, President of the Republic of Macedonia (2009-2019), Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic (2003-2013) and Petru Lucinschi, President of the Republic of Moldova (1997-2001).
The Marmara Foundation Group has been a partner of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization in the project titled ”The world post COVID-19 pandemic. A humanist vision for a sustainable development” ever since its launch in April 2020.
Emil Constantinescu: The key to an accelerated post -pandemic recovery is to be found in the strong exploitation of the resources, by the very states that possess them.
Even if the pandemic seems to get weaker by the day, as can be seen in the number of cases, we are still constrained to meet online, just to be safe. And, apart from this, we have to deal with the post-pandemic effects, which are becoming visible. That is why, I believe that this year's topic - “New Horizons, Newer Beginnings in Culture and Social Life. Paving New High Ways for Safer Horizons. Is the Post-Covid-19 Economy a turning point?” is very accurate yet enticing. We need to think of the future, especially of those areas that have been gravely affected.
When I think of such an area, the first that comes to mind is Asia. And I think that you have all thought of Asia at least once, given that China - a country with an impressive ancient history - was the originator of the new coronavirus named COVID-19. Even if today, the country is unfortunately associated with the virus, China is much more than that. And I believe it is here that her future will stem from.
Therefore, I would like to bring into discussion the following questions, not in terms of slogans, but in terms of real actions. What is next for China's recovery? And why should we focus so much on China?
Usually, post-event recovery translates into going back to normal. And in the case of China, normal means growth. I will not speak of growth in terms of economy or politics. This is the job of strategists, geopoliticians, economists and heads of state. I choose to speak in terms familiar to my profession: geology.
China's geological reality is little known, yet it is highly important, as the state is a geological super-power.
In 2013, when China became the world's second economic power, leaving Japan behind, the United States were confronted with a new problem. Until then, they were competing with Russia, a state that is basing its power on large mineral resources, with Japan, an expanding industrial power, which is missing energy and mineral resources, and with the European Union, which is highly competitive, from an industrial point of view, but has exhausted its raw material resources, or has them under preservation.
China foresaw the vulnerability of Western economic power generated by the externalization of industry, on its way for achieving profit, and exploited this fact by preparing its resources of rare earths for capitalization. Half a century ago, following the 1973 oil crisis which led to a reconsideration of the global policies on oil resources, the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping claimed that rare earths shall be for China, what oil is for the Middle Eastern countries. No one took him for granted then. Two decades ago, in 1998, I received the American historian Robert Kaplan, who interviewed me for his upcoming book, “Eastward to Tartary”. Kaplan remained faithful to his interest in the Balkans, Central Asia and China in his following books, “The revenge of geography. What maps tell us of future conflicts and the struggle against destiny”, and “The return of Marco Polo's world: Global strategies and American interests in the 21st century”. What sets Kaplan apart from other American analysts is the fact that he travels to all the countries he writes about, not only by plane, but also by train, car, or foot, and moreover isn't afraid to stop and take in both the view and the views of local leaders and regular people alike.
Robert Kaplan confirmed Deng Xiaoping's predictions, pointing out that, while the Americans fought Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, China had “defied the uncertainty” and built roads and railroads to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, that would connect her to the natural resources of the Indian Ocean ports. Kaplan's conclusion was that China's geopolitical strategy, focused on mineral resources, will become the dominant norm, since while military campaigns are ephemeral, roads, rail networks and pipes are, practically, eternal. You will say that resources are hardly inexhaustible. It is true. But the processes and the networks generated by their exploitation are long-lasting and sufficient to generate the relaunch of a country and its global interactions in that regard.
You will ask me: why speak of geology after the pandemic? It is because the pandemic showed us a brutal truth: that despite their economic and political might, countries remained highly vulnerable to disease. The rapid spread of the virus crippled the policies and economies of these countries because their very agents - people themselves - were affected. Thus, it seems that their recovery will last longer than it usually would after a regular crisis. On the other hand, geological resources have remained unhindered by the pandemic, because their exploitation stopped. That is why, in my opinion, the key to an accelerated post -pandemic recovery is to be found in the strong exploitation of the resources, by the very states that possess them. And I conclude by stating that a power such as China can set the tone for recovery in this regard, for the rest of the world.